Fred: (crawling in from the desert) Water, water.
EPA: My poor man. Yes, we have water. Do you have a Desert Waste Disposal Permit?
Fred: (more weakly) Water.
EPA: It seems not. If I give you water, you are likely to create more waste. The regulations require a permit.
Fred: (raises questioning eyes) You ... your waste?
EPA: Oh, right. I use the trailer behind me. Sorry, EPA personnel only.
Our government is supposed to be a giant organization for The Good. Government collects information and regulations that are supposedly vital to a safe, productive economy. Government supposedly collects resources and action plans to react quickly to mistakes and disasters.
But, when put to the test, we find that government employees and agencies do not want to act, for fear of making a mistake. And they won't bend any rule, regardless of reason or consequence. They know that government runs on rules. You can't break a rule just because it is reasonable or required. Sorry people. Better luck next time.
Tell me again, why should we empower and trust the type of organization called "government"?
[edited] Dutch skimmer ships process an oil spill to extract the maximum oil in the minimum time. They use huge booms to sweep and suck the oil from the surface of the sea. They extract and store most of the oil, and discharge slightly oily water that is not at drinking water standard.
The U.S. Environmental Protecion Agency (EPA) refused the Dutch skimmers because regulations prohibit discharging oily water, even if processing extracts almost all of the oil. Americans don’t have any spill response vessels with skimmers because their environmental regulations do not allow it.
Wierd Koops is chairman of the Dutch Spill Response Group. He thinks the US approach is nonsense, because you would have to store the skimmed seawater in the tanks as well. We have to get as much oil as possible into the storage tanks, along with as little water as possible. So we pump the separated water overboard, containing drops of oil.
US regulations are contradictory. Releasing oily water is not allowed, but spreading chemicals to dissolve the oil in the seawater is allowed. The oil is naturally broken down quite quickly in both cases. But, experiments showed that dissolving the oil with chemicals caused more damage than the oil itself.
You have to clear up the oil at sea, before the oil reaches the mud flats and salt marshes. All you can do then is dig the oil up [with the sand]. That response is worse than the problem.
The EPA restriction on operating the Dutch skimmer ships has been known for years. Why is there still a prohibition on taking dirty water from the sea and returning much cleaner water? It seems that our government is incapable of making a practical rule. The requirement to "never discharge dirty water" seems like a religious requirement, rather than a general goal which has practical exceptions.
Watchdog says EPA is covering up the toxicity of Gulf oil dispersants
07/20/10 - Digital Journal by Stephanie Dearing
[edited] Hugh Kaufman is senior policy analyst at the Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response at the US Environmental Protection Agency. He says the EPA is covering up the toxic effects of the dispersant Corexit used on the oil spill.
Kaufman [edited]: "People and wildlife having contact with Corexit are hemorrhaging internally. That’s what dispersants are supposed to do. EPA now says that they really don’t know how dangerous it is, even though the label tells you. It is being used to protect BP's economics, not the environment."
Both types of Corexit products being used in the gulf were banned in the United Kingdom for such use years ago. This information had been in a New York Times article, Wang said, but had been pulled later. Nearly two million gallons have been sprayed on the oil spill to date. Kaufman said the dispersant was only causing the oil to sink below the surface.
Dispersants Are Breaking Up in the Gulf
06/30/10 - CNN U.S. by Wire Staff
[edited] The EPA in May ordered BP to cut back its use of Corexit due to concerns about its safety. It wanted BP to use a different dispersant, but BP said no safer products were available in large enough quantities.
The EPA considers two million gallons of dispersant to be safe enough, although dispersants are not completely safe. Up close, dispersants are dangerous. It seems that dispersants make the oil less visible, dispersing it throughout the seawater below. So, why the rule against using Dutch technology skimmer ships, which add nothing dangerous to the seawater and collect useful oil in addition?
[edited] Eight days ago, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal ordered barges to begin vacuuming crude oil out of his state’s oil-soaked waters. Today those barges sat idle, even as more oil flowed toward the Louisiana shore.
Jindal: “It’s the most frustrating thing. Yesterday morning we found out that the Coast Guard halted all of these barges."
The Coast Guard needed to confirm that there were fire extinguishers and life vests on board. It had trouble contacting the people who built the barges.
The Coast Guard spends much effort checking pleasure boats to verify that people have the proper safety equipment. This valuable mission must be high on their list of things to do when they see a boat, even a 100 foot barge engaged in a vital mission to protect the LA coast. Well, the rules are the rules.
Obama Orders Louisiana To Stop Building Berms
06/23/10 - Quando.net by MichaelW
[edited] Louisiana has been building berms [rows of sand] about a mile out from the coast to halt infiltration of oil into its wetlands and fishing areas. This process was first delayed by federal red tape. The state has permits in hand, but the US Dept. of Fish and Wildlife is now ordering this to stop at midnight Wednesday.The Feds Latest Attempt to Kill Louisiana
06/23/10 - SoItGoesInShreveport by Pat Austin
[edited] I’m trying to understand the “coastal scientists” who say that the berms will “change tidal patterns” and lead to more long term erosion. If the islands are killed off by the oil, what difference does it make?
It seems that the feds want to cripple Louisiana’s response to this crisis. Gov. Bobby Jindal said long ago (paraphrase): If you’re not going to fix it, get out of the way and let us do it ourselves!
We could get the idea that Team Obama is trying to neutralize Jindal’s response, as if Obama were threatened by Bobby Jindal.
Porter Clark presents another possibility: "Any sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice".
The Government's Catastrophic Response to the Oil Disaster
07/09/10 - Reason by Jon Basil Utley
[edited] Washington is almost criminally inept, compounded by the negligence of BP. Washington’s reactions are causing greater damage than the spill itself.
Extreme environmentalists in the Obama Administration have the declared agenda to shut down all offshore oil drilling, in Alaska as well as the Gulf. The Sierra Club has bragged that it helped to shut down all new coal power plants. Other environmentalists remain pleased that the Three Mile Island crisis ended building new nuclear power plants.
CNN reports that almost all new drilling has been suspended for at least two months. This includes shallow-water wells in less than 500 feet of water, despite Obama's prior statement that drilling such wells would continue.
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has delayed permits for current drilling operations, despite that thousands of deep-water wells have been drilled successfully. Obama and Salazar falsely claimed that their desired six month shutdown had been supported by a panel of experts.
Salazar and his gang may be ignorant of business. They may shut down the sophisticated flow of supplies and men, believing they can later restart that flow like flipping a switch. This may bring financial ruin to smaller companies.
My sources estimate needing at least two years to restore Gulf production to its pre-suspension levels. Deep-water drilling rigs cost at least $500,000 per day. They are immediately being sent to work in Africa and Asia where they are wanted. It will take months or years to bring them back. Some 100,000 high-paying jobs are at risk. Already, the number of deep-water rigs has dropped by 23 from 42 to 19, a 55% decline.
BP Relied on Faulty U.S. Regulatory Data
06/24/10 - Wall Street Journal
[edited] BP PLC and other big oil companies have plans for responding to oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico. They are required by federal regulators to base these plans on models prepared by the Mineral Management Service within the Interior Department. These models were last updated in 2004, and never tested for deep water spills.
Regulatory models gave very low odds of oil hitting shore. These models projected that most of the oil would rapidly evaporate or be broken up by waves or weather. Oil would not reach shore even for a catastrophic offshore spill much larger than the current one.
Congressmen last week accused BP and other companies of using "cookie cutter" contingency plans that contained many errors and omissions. Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson noted that much of the company's response plan "is prescribed by regulation, including the models that are used to project different scenarios for oil spills."
Congress constructs laws that apply after crimes and errors have occurred. Then, Congress imagines that government "regulation" is even better, because it will require safe practices ahead of time and prevent cutting corners and bad mistakes.
In reality, government regulation is heavy handed, slow to change, and applied in suffocating detail. Regulation can crowd out good practices. I can imagine that oil companies are hassled enough by regulations that offer little benefit. Then, they are reluctant to go beyond requlations in areas that are speculative, such as where oil will float after a spill.
The government plan was to have "fire boom" available to soak up oil and burn it off while it was far at sea. In reality, the government did not have this boom available, and the EPA also said they couldn't burn off the oil this way.
I don't see intelligent regulation based on logical planning and trade-offs. I see a regulatory mess, with many agencies having conflicting requirements.
In this emergency of spilled oil, the EPA tightens handling of all oils. Will olive oil be next? This will put some small dairies out of business.
[edited] New EPA regulations treat spilled milk like oil, requiring farmers to build extra storage tanks and form emergency spill plans.
EPA regulations say “milk typically contains a percentage of animal fat, which is a non-petroleum oil. Containers storing milk are subject to the Oil Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure Program rule when they meet the applicability criteria.”
EPA regulations, along with all government enforced regulations, resemble a computer program that has not been tested. When unintended situations come up, the regulations eliminate jobs, and are difficult to correct using reason.
This illustrates a typical regulatory response. Government regulation and preparation failed in the very important case of the Gulf oil spill. This has produced a strong reaction in other, simpler, unnecessary cases as a demonstration that the regulators are really vigilant and powerful. Take that, you dairy farmers!
Dr. Strangelove - Precious Bodily Fluids
The 1964 movie "Dr. Strangelove" is a must see. It made the phrases "Purity of Essence" and "Precious bodily fluids" immortal. This video clip (2:52) is the scene where Col. Ripper describes the necessity of keeping the Communists from polluting our nation's precious bodily fluids. Satire becomes reality as enforced by our EPA.
More at The Internet Movie Database