Gulf oil spill could hit Louisiana coast Thursday night

Oh yes, let’s drill for a lot more off-shore oil. They have great, green technology now!

Although this Administration is not responsible for this huge oil leak, it highlights their boneheaded policy of greatly expanded off-shore drilling.  It looks like this could be almost as bad as the 1989 Alaska catastrophe with the Exxon Valdez . . .  and the petroleum keeps leaking out of the wrecked bottom of the oil platform. It could take 90 days to stop the leak!

The oil is now just offshore. It will hit a wildlife management area first!

4/30. As oil spill hits Louisiana coast, critics assail Obama’s offshore drilling plan. By Steven Mufson and Michael D. Shear. Washington Post Staff Writer

4/30. New. Gulf Coast oil spill could eclipse Exxon Valdez. Video. By Cain Burdeau And Holbrook Mohr. Washington Post.l

4/30. Update. Video. Oil reaches the coast.

Gulf oil spill could hit Louisiana coast Thursday night. By Steven Mufson. Washington Post.

Growing Gulf of Mexico oil leak called spill of ‘national significance’. Greenspace in the Los Angeles Times.

Oil Execs Called To Testify Before Congress On Gulf Coast Spill, Consumer Pricing. Huffington Post.

The slick as seen from space. NPR

Gulf oil spill and BP profits. Dallas Morning Tribune blog. By Todd Robertson.  And I thought BP referred to “beyond petroleum”. Now they tell me it has always been British Petroleum. grrrrr!






  1. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    As I said on a post the other day, “It’s odd about oil drilling plans, but the first time the politics were in place to open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for oil drilling (1989), the Captain of the Exxon Valdez got drunk and let his tanker run into Bligh Reef, spilling 11 million gallons of crude into Prince William Sound, Alaska.

    The subsequent political backlash took drilling the Refuge off the table until George W.

    I wonder if the Gulf of Mexico disaster could do the same?”

  2. Chris Harbin Avatar
    Chris Harbin

    This article by Eric Smith appeared in the Washington Post the day after the administration announced their policy on off-shore drilling. I wonder if this guy has a different opinion now.

  3. mikarooni Avatar

    It was an infamously disastrous off-shore rig leak off Santa Barbara many years ago that led to the moratorium on off-shore drilling in the first place. Now, as soon as the vultures are able to argue that they haven’t had an off-shore rig spill in a long time and that things are safer now and as soon as that persistent argument gets Obama to loosen up, BP pulls this stunt. It’s dharma.

  4. william huard Avatar
    william huard

    This should not really come as a surprise with two oil guys in the white house who had a desire for minimal or no regulation in the oil industry. These voluntary standards are working out well. These coal and oil accidents are unfortunately what it takes to get regulation in place, at the expense of human lives and marine turtles.

  5. Chris Harbin Avatar
    Chris Harbin

    “The Oil Drum” blog that Ralph provides a link to seems to be a good source of info on the spill if your looking for good info – thanks Ralph!

  6. Mike Avatar

    Very sad news. We have so much farther to go, don’t we?

  7. pointswest Avatar

    Cars are going to start converting over to electric and nuclear energy is looking better and better.

  8. pointswest Avatar

    The NBC News said tonight that BP’s estimates of the discharge rate were grossly underestimated and instead of leaking at 42,000 gal per day it is more likely leaking 210,000 gal per day as estimated by the Coast Guard. Best case estimate for a fix is 30 days and woarst case is several months. I would say that means at least two months or 12 million gallons of oil spilled in the Gulf.

    Drill baby drill!

  9. Nathan Hobbs Avatar
    Nathan Hobbs

    1 line Summarization of what happens with offshore drilling….

    “Drill baby Drill…Burn Baby Burn…Scrub Baby Scrub!”

  10. RLMiller Avatar

    Some not-so-fun facts:
    — The Exxon Valdez spill was 250K barrels/11M gallons. At 5K barrels/210K gallons/day, this disaster (I’m using the term “oilpocalpyse) should surpass it early- to mid-June. Rumors are circulating that it’s far more than 5K barrels/day. As far as I understand the govt’s plans, they’re wildly estimating solution(s) in place within 90 days, but it sounds to me like they’re making wild guesses and hoping that something will work.

    — A smaller spill on April 6 or 7 of about 18,000 gallons hit the Delta Nat’l Wildlife Refuge in Louisiana. There’s been a virtual media blackout on it.

    — Birds migrating from the Yucatan — 25M/day — make landfall here. More than 70% of the country’s waterfowl frequent the gulf’s waters.

    — Federally protected marine mammals — whales, dolphins and sea turtles — are among the species at risk. Biologists fear turtles that swim to shore to lay eggs in the approaching nesting season could become coated with oil.

    — The 400 miles of shoreline near the spill area include a national park and more than 20 national wildlife refuges.

    — This is more accurately described as a “river of oil” than a spill. A spill is finite (e.g., toddler’s sippy cup) and easily mopped up, but it’s hard to shut down a river. Oil isn’t leaking/dripping, it’s spewing up from the ocean floor.

    — It’s already ashore.

    1. Virginia Avatar

      RLMiller – do you know of any way a person can volunteer to go down and help with the cleanup?

  11. kt Avatar

    There have been several good posts on Firedoglake – and interesting info in Comments, too.

    Here is one, but there were other Posts too.

    Also: A consequence of lax environmental controls, and Oil/Gas industry cutting costs.

    You knew this was going to be bad when officials started talking about tools in the toolbox, and they briefly dragged out cowboy Ken Salazar at mid-week talkin’ prescribed burnin’.

    Here is a Prop publica Link about how things haven’t changed much a lot Interior in Good ‘ol Mineral Services.

  12. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Heads need to roll. Ken Salazar should be first!

  13. WolfMtnLady Avatar

    White house/Obama stops all new oil drilling, a little to late I think? Hopefully he will stop it forever. So ironic this happened just 2 weeks after he lifted the bans…

    1. Jeremy B. Avatar

      Can you say “oops”? Poor Obama can’t catch a break. Maybe he’ll start paying attention to environmentalists now…na probably not.

  14. kt Avatar

    I wondered, when briefly the Coast Guard was talking about “Tools in the Toolbox” if that nonsensical phrase wasn’t Salazar’s doing.

    The Energy Industry at all levels continues to skate free of accountability. The appalling FERC process for the El Paso Gas’s Ruby Pipeline is an on-the-ground Heart of Sagebrush country example.

    The poor, poor starving Gas Company (recently seen on-line boasting about share price) can’t build its pipe (that is to supply gas to California) INTO California because there are nasty hurdles to protect the environment. Nasty, nasty rule like CEQA – the California state environmental law. So the Gas Pipe Route goes north into Oregon to get gas from WY and CO to California -to avoid the state with more protection.

    Plus, in east-central Nevada, this reckless route runs right on top of the area that is undergoing large-scale gold mining. Yet FERC (the agency overseeing this all but with both Salazar’s BLM and USFWS as Cooperating Agencies also deeply involved) hasn’t really made Ruby analyze all the potential problems with running a big gas pipe where the earth is undergoing massive disturbance, springs are going dry, etc. Like -duh -maybe there could be safety concerns???

    The El Paso Ruby Pipe Route seeks to destroy what the Reno-Gazette recently termed “virgin sagebrush” in the remote areas of Northwest Nevada. Where the large-scale disturbance will spread cheatgrass -kind of like the sagebrush country equivalent of an oil slick. Dooming.

    And tear up native American burial grounds.

    All because of Energy Company Greed.

    Under the Salazar Interior, Salazar has not acted to speak up for the BLM public lands in jeopardy, and tell Ruby to follow existing and designated Energy Corridors near the INterstate, or other less destructive routes. Blame in the Ruby process too should be laid on Salazar for letting this destructive project proceed this far – at the very same time he is claiming to care about sage grouse.

    Fortunately, more and more people are catching on to what a mess this has all become.

  15. Virginia Avatar

    The CEO of BP has asked the question, “What the hell did we do to deserve this?” I would counter that question with, “What the hell did the wildlife do to deserve this?”

    Ralph – I agree with you. Salazar should go and this ridiculous congress needs to step up and pass some laws to protect the environment – the oil companies “self regulation” has come home to roost!

  16. pointswest Avatar

    I read somewhere (maybe here) that BP could have used a safty auto-stutoff valve right at the ocean floor. They are required off the coast of of the dirty commie nation of Venezuela for example. But BP chose not to use one. It probably saved them a whole dime and got some Project Manager or execuative a nice Christmas bonus.

    1. Nathan Hobbs Avatar
      Nathan Hobbs

      They are called acoustic switches and allow the shut off valve to be operated remotely even after total destruction of the oil pad. It is basically a underwater microphone that listens for a series of codes and activates the shut off mechanism via an internal power supply.

      They are required by law in Brazil and Norway. America considered mandating them but were ruled out because of the 500,000 dollar price tag.
      Read more:

  17. Cobra Avatar

    $500,000.00 seems pretty cheap to me compared to the price they’ll have to pay now. What a waste.

  18. Nathan Hobbs Avatar
    Nathan Hobbs

    This keeps getting worse and worse.
    Scientists from the NOAA speculate that 5,000 barrells is inaccurate.

    Up to 25,000 barrels of oil a day may be spewing from the disaster site. AND up to 9 million gallons of oil may already be in the ocean. If this information is true the spill will surpass the Exxon Valdez in volume tomorrow and is well on its way to becoming the worst environmental disaster in US history.

    1. Ralph Maughan Avatar

      By time this is fixed (months) the currents are likely to coat not just the Gulf of Mexico, but much of the United State’s East Coast with this heavy oil. It turns out it is not Louisiana sweet crude.

  19. Chris Harbin Avatar
    Chris Harbin

    Here is a link to comment on BP’s spill. I realize that it will not be read or acted on but at least it’s a decent way to exorcise some demons.

    I don’t think my comments are all that great but here is what I sent in:
    “Had to cut corners by not putting the $500,000 acoustic shut-off valve on. Pathetic.
    Your response to the spill or rather the lack off it is even worse. It would be nice to see the CEO or members of the Board of Directors clean up some wildlife or wipe oil off rocks. Maybe for their meal breaks feed them some oil covered shrimp or fish – if their are any.
    Of course afterward, they could take a nice long rest in a federal prison and dream about their families who will live in abject poverty since the spill clean-up must be paid by someone.
    Oh, I am the one dreaming because none of the above suggestions will come to fruition. You are all a bunch of greedy a$$holes. Had to cut corners by not putting the $500,000 acoustic shut-off valve on. Pathetic.
    Your response to the spill or rather the lack off it is even worse. It would be nice to see the CEO or members of the Board of Directors clean up some wildlife or wipe oil off rocks. Maybe for their meal breaks feed them some oil covered shrimp or fish – if their are any.
    Of course afterward, they could take a nice long rest in a federal prison and dream about their families who will live in abject poverty since the spill clean-up must be paid by someone.
    Oh, I am the one dreaming because none of the above suggestions will come to fruition. You are all a bunch of greedy a$$holes. “

  20. Virginia Avatar

    The company that cemented the wellhead is one of my favorites – Halliburton! Possibly the worst company in the world as far as negligence in Iraq and led in the past by the one and only Dick Cheney who also set our energy policies behind closed doors during the bush/cheney reign.

  21. Devin Avatar

    Hopefully Congress uses this as a focusing event to push through some heavy regulations and rethink oil policy. Republicans don’t have a foot to stand on here as the estimates say that it will cost over twelve billion dollars to just clean up the mess. That doesn’t include the economic effects that will be felt on industries as a result of ecosystem destruction. In this political environment though, it’s unlikely that the bill would be bipartisan and that thought makes me sick.

    1. Nathan Hobbs Avatar
      Nathan Hobbs

      Some in Congress are claiming saying that the oil will break up naturally…

  22. cc Avatar

    For anyone with the time, money, or inclination to help w/the spill:

  23. mikarooni Avatar

    I feel sorry for the people of New Orleans and the Gulf. I feel sorry for the wetlands and wildlife that will now be destroyed. I feel sorry that some species and areas will be lost forever and that recovery will take at least several decades even for those that can recover. I feel sorry for the pod of gray whales that happened to wander into the slick and are now very probably mortally poisoned. I feel sorry that, if I can even find any fresh oysters or crab or shrimp over the rest of my lifetime, they are not coming from the gulf and are going to be very much more expensive. I feel sorry for the lands ruined by drilling pads and oil/gas roads. I feel sorry that Alberta increasingly resembles West Virginia, scrapped clean and processed. I feel sorry for lands torn up by pipelines and transmission lines and off-road roads to nowhere.

    But, most of humanity is stupidly selfish and refuses to acknowledge the costs of their toys and their self-centered greed. The off-road roads to nowhere are there because of the childishness and selfishness of the folks who put their thrillplay ahead of everyone and everything else and fight those who oppose it. Alberta and West Virginia and a lot of Wyoming for that matter have been and are being ground up because people in those places choose that path, even though other paths are most certainly open to them, and fight those who oppose it. Northern Utah and southeast Idaho are scrapped over and reburied and the creeks are selenium-contaminated because people let Simplot do it and fight those who oppose it. The gulf coast is being lost for our lifetimes because the people of New Orleans, Mobile, Apalachicola, and the rest of the gulf wanted their little share of oil money, let a foreign oil company come in and do as it pleased, and fought those who opposed it. When oil is being used to fuel an ATV, motorcycle, or snowmobile; do we really need to tear up our environment to get that oil? When we’re already an obese society due to the impacts of cheap GMO corn and the damned corn syrup and the greasy beef and our rivers are eutrophic from excessive ag run-off, do we really need to give Simplot more land to ruin digging for polluting chemical fertilizer constituents? Do we really need more irrigation water when our non-native artificial lawns are where we’re putting so much of it? When Germany has already demonstrated the feasibility of decentralized, locally generated, renewable power as a far greater component of our energy mix and even created industries that revitalized the former East Germany from the demand for solar panels and wind turbines that are installed locally, couldn’t we rethink and reduce our need for transmission lines and pipelines? When we already have a light pollution problem, do we need coalbed methane and the polluted water it yields just to generate electricity for childishly grotesque signs; wouldn’t signage regulations work?

    I don’t like the way instant karma keeps holding class; but, sometimes things have to get worse in order to get better. I hope those people in the South and in the gulf coast states who fought the idea of climate change before Katrina, who still tolerated the bullying dominance of the oil industry even after Katrina, who fought the moratorium on off-shore drilling and cheered gutter slime like Sarah Palin, will now rethink things.

  24. Chris Harbin Avatar
    Chris Harbin

    I agree with mikarooni, although I think I am more angry at the powers that be.
    You might think that wolves would not be affected by this but there is a small population of red wolves in St. Vincent N.W.R. This is an island propagation site just off the the coast of Florida near Apalachicola.

  25. Cindy Avatar

    Thank you chris mikarooni, you have helped convey into words what my mind has been stewing on all weekend. And I don’t need anyone reminding me that I’m apart of the problem because I understand that more than ever. I know I contribute to the harm to our earth and I know I could do better. Bill Maher had some good advice, let’s have the folks wearing their “drill baby drill” t-shirts out washing those precious birds!

  26. Cindy Avatar

    sorry Chris AND Mikarooni

  27. audrey brown Avatar
    audrey brown

    I have never been sadder in my life. I feel sorry for the people whose livings are so threatned, but hopefully money will come in to them from the criminals who allowed this to happen…greed is the key word here. The poor little aminals and birds who are so bewildered.. they dont know what has hit them will die horrible deaths and its not fair. I am ashamed to be part of the human race at this point in time and feel helpless in what I can do to help the wildlife and this earth. Thank you to the good people who are doing what they can to help the wildlife. I pray some survive and I pray mankind will learn a lesson (at the expence of all the suffering of these precious animals) and never let something like this happen ever again..and to the greedy oil people there reighn should end and justice should be theres…send them to jail and take away there money. Thats the only way they will ever learn.


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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Ralph Maughan