Monday, August 30, 2010

Fund manager says most oil spill claims lack documentation

 "BP is one of many companies that helped pay for the governors’ convention. BP officials said the organization has been a corporate affiliate of the Southern Governors’ Association for about 20 years and contributed $50,000 this year."

 

Fund manager says most oil spill claims lack documentation

By Phillip Rawls The Associated Press
Published: Monday, August 30, 2010 at 3:30 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, August 29, 2010 at 11:00 p.m.
HOOVER | The administrator of the new claims process for victims of the Gulf oil spill said Sunday most of the individual claims reviewed in the first week lacked the minimal documentation to be paid.

“There are thousands of claims that have been filed with no documentation at all,” Ken Feinberg told state officials at the Southern Governors’ Association convention.
Feinberg took over the claims process from BP on Aug. 23. He said 18,900 individual claims were submitted in the first week and all were reviewed. He says payments were authorized to 1,200 individuals totaling about $6 million in emergency compensation.
Payments have already been processed for some and the rest will be done today, he said. Most were for less than $25,000. Those who lacked the necessary documentation will be notified and told what type of material they might submit for payment, he said.
Feinberg said profit and loss statements, tax returns and similar documents are not necessarily required. He said minimal proof is all that is needed, and a crew member of a fishing boat might get paid based on a letter from his captain detailing how the worker had been affected.
Businesses submitted 7,400 claims in the first week and their review is next for Feinberg and his staff of 200 reviewers.
“Once a business documents those claims, we will pay those claims within seven days,” he said.
Some Gulf Coast officials expressed concern that claims not be delayed by asking for one form of documentation and then another.
Feinberg said success will depend on the speed of processing claims, which will not be delayed.

Joining Feinberg at the meeting were incoming BP CEO Bob Dudley and retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, the government’s point man on the spill.

BP is one of many companies that helped pay for the governors’ convention. BP officials said the organization has been a corporate affiliate of the Southern Governors’ Association for about 20 years and contributed $50,000 this year.

Riley was the only Gulf Coast governor who heard their comments because the others were elsewhere, including attending observances of the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. But they sent representatives.

Dudley says BP officials will meet with representatives of Alabama’s governor and attorney general today to discuss the state’s $148 million claim against BP for taxes lost due to the spill.
The attorney general sued BP the same day the governor filed the initial claim, which Dudley said complicated the handling. He said today’s meeting is a get-acquainted session, and he doesn’t expect a resolution.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

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Who Should the People of the Gulf Coast Trust for Payback?

August 28th, 2010 The Federal Government or the State Court System?
BP_PC-protest8-15-10.jpg
David Underhill of the Mobile Alabama Sierra Club protests BP in Panama City, Florida
Legal Analysis
by Glynn Wilson

David Underhill of the Mobile Alabama Sierra Club, who recently protested a public forum sponsored by the U.S. Department of the Interior by wearing duct tape over his mouth since citizens were not allowed to speak like they should have been in a real democratic town hall public hearing, was also party to a stakeholders meeting August 17 with officials from national and local government agencies and environmental groups as well as the British Petroleum corporation.
There were already so many public complaints about the lethargic nature of BP’s response to paying claims to individuals and businesses along the Gulf Coast that the Obama administration stepped in June 15 and seized $20 billion of the oil company’s money, to make sure people receive compensation for losses suffered due to the largest and worst environmental disaster in American history.
By June 16, less than two months after the Deepwater Horizon oil rig blew up in the Gulf of Mexico April 20, killing 11 workers and spreading it’s crude all over the Gulf from the Louisiana marshes to the beaches of Mississippi, Alabama and Florida, President Barack Obama appointed Washington attorney Kenneth Feinberg to act as the arbitrator to lead an independent team to oversee paying out claims from the new $20 billion escrow fund.
But the question on Underhill’s mind at the August 17 meeting was whether Feinberg could truly be independent and fair if he is being paid by BP. So he tried to get an answer from one of the BP representatives at the meeting, Gary Willis. Clearly there is not much trust of BP on the Gulf Coast, since the company has lied time and time again about the amount of oil leaking into the Gulf, about the use of chemical dispersants, even about who has the power to control access to oiled beaches.
The answer Underhill got from the BP official was “fuzzy,” he said, so he and Casi Callaway of the Mobile Baykeeper did a followup interview with BP public relations representative Sam J. Sacco.
In an e-mail exchange obtained exclusively by The Locust Fork News-Journal, Sacco said: “A question was asked by one of your members at the Aug. 17 COAST meeting as to whether BP was paying the appointed claims administrator, Mr. Feinberg,” Sacco said. “The answer to that question is yes.”

He then provided an official explanation of the new Gulf Coast Claims Facility, an independent claims center set up to receive and resolve claims of individuals and businesses “for costs and damages incurred as a result of the oil discharges due to the Deepwater Horizon incident.”
At the insistence of the president and his cabinet, BP fully agreed to contribute funds to an escrow account to be used to pay claims submitted to the center, which will be administered by Feinberg as the Claims Administrator, “a neutral fund administrator responsible for all decisions relating to the administration and processing of claims,” Sacco said.
The next question was, if the Claims Administrator is being paid by BP, “can I trust him to be fair?”
Answer: “The Claims Administrator is an independent, neutral fund administrator. BP provides the funding for the GCCF, including the Claims Administrator’s fees and expenses. The Claims Administrator does not report to BP and BP does not control his decisions in any way.”
The next question: “Will BP decide my claim?”
Answer: “No. The GCCF, an independent, neutral administrator, will decide your claim. BP will have no input on the decision.”
Question: “I already submitted a claim through BP. What should I do?”
Answer: “If you have previously filed a claim with BP your information will be transferred to the GCCF. You must complete a (new) Claim Form if you intend to apply to receive Emergency Advance Payments or a Final Payment for your damages or losses. You will be assigned a new Claimant Identification Number.”
The final question: “Can I still file a claim with BP?”
Answer: “No. As of August 23, 2010, all claims must be filed with the GCCF. (It) has replaced the BP claims process. Individuals and businesses should no longer present claims to BP.”
Alabama’s outgoing attorney general Troy King has made public statements questioning the impartiality of Feinberg, as has liberal trial lawyer Jere Beasley, whose firm stands to make millions of dollars in fees by bringing separate lawsuits on behalf of local fishermen who have lost income due to the oil spill.
A recent lawsuit filed on behalf of the state of Alabama is an entirely separate matter. All the claims by governments which lost tax revenue from the collapse of the tourism economy on the Gulf Coast will be handled in a separate federal case consolidated in Houston, Texas.
Individuals and businesses, on the other hand, must either file their claims with Feinberg and the government fund and hope to get paid soon, or opt out and go with a private lawyer and sue in a state district court, potentially waiting many years to receive any compensation. It took 20 years for the people of Alaska to get paid a fraction of their losses in the case against Exxon for the Valdez spill in Prince William Sound.
In a recent statement sent out far and wide by e-mail, but reported on by no news organization that I know of, Beasley said he wrote Feinberg a letter and asked a number of questions concerning his role in the oil spill disaster claims process.
Not waiting for an answer, Beasley said, “It appears that Mr. Feinberg favors BP and other potential defendants in the protocol he has developed. I question who he is really working for?”
“The folks on the coast are hurting, and they deserve fair treatment, which they certainly haven’t gotten so far from BP,” Beasley said. “Now Mr. Feinberg says he’s going to do the right thing, but at the same time he’s advising people to settle with BP and lose any future rights to seek relief from BP and the other companies that have liabilities to claimants. The victims desperately need help now, but they also must be fully protected in the future.”
“How can BP — or Mr. Feinberg — ask them to release BP, Transocean, Halliburton, Cameron and any other entity at fault from all future responsibilities? Many claimants will have tremendous future losses and will be damaged for years,” Beasley continued. “I am also calling for transparency from Mr. Feinberg. How is he being paid to handle claims for BP? How much has he been paid so far? What is his compensation agreement?”
“So far, BP hasn’t shown any evidence that it’s shooting straight with the individuals, businesses and governmental entities that are suffering as a result of the gross wrongdoing by these powerful corporations,” Beasley said. “Why should victims believe Mr. Feinberg has their best interests at heart if he is cutting off their rights to a full recovery, which will include tremendous future losses? Mr. Feinberg owes the public more than just talk!”
Another trial lawyer in Alabama, who has worked directly with Mr. Feinberg on other cases, indicated if there is anyone in the country who can do a fair job of getting the people of the Gulf Coast paid, it is Feinberg.
“I think Ken is as fair and independent as they come,” the attorney said. “It’s a good thing BP has to pay him — otherwise the government would. It is too big a job to do for free. If he says he’ll be liberal (in paying claims), I assume he will and that if BP doesn’t like it, they can try to fire him and see where that gets them.”
Feinberg may in fact be uniquely qualified among American lawyers to handle this job, according to Web research and interviews with other attorneys.
He is perhaps most famous for stepping in and acting as “special master” for the federal September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, which distributed nearly $7 billion to more than 5,000 victims and families of victims of 9/11 in New York.
He also acted as executive-pay czar in the big bank and automobile company bailout, negotiating a 50 percent reduction in salaries for the 25 highest-paid executives at the companies that received the most federal bailout money: Citigroup, Bank of America, AIG, General Motors and Chrysler.
Feinberg has also acted as mediator to resolve a series of high-profile legal cases, including some of biggest asbestos lawsuits in the country. He obtained a $2.5 billion settlement for women suing over a defective contraceptive device. He administered the Hokie Spirit Memorial Fund, set up for the benefit of victims’ families in the 2007 Virginia Tech shootings.
Then, after 8 years of litigation in which victims died and families suffered immeasurably, Feinberg finally helped settle a class action lawsuit by 250,000 Vietnam veterans against the manufacturers of Agent Orange, a deadly defoliant used in the Vietnam war. In just six week’s time, Feinberg obtained a $180 million settlement, receiving a fee of less than $1 million for his services.
“His natural talent is cutting a deal that everybody can live with,” John C. Coffee Jr., a law professor at Columbia University, told Time magazine.
Another independent Alabama trial lawyer, who was recently elected to the board of the Alabama Association for Justice (formerly the Alabama Trial Lawyer’s Association) indicated that he too was concerned about folks on the Gulf Coast getting paid fast, although in some cases they must sign waivers giving up “all future claims,” even though it is still way too early in most cases for anyone to know exactly what their losses will be, “how exactly to quantify and compute them.”
But when I asked Underhill if it he didn’t think it was better for the money to come from BP, the multinational corporation that caused the Gulf oil spill disaster, rather than the people of this country, he said, “I would rather have the taxpayers pay than have one of the parties to the dispute pay.”
From everything I can ascertain after researching this story for the past few days, in cases where individuals or businesses can compute an accurate estimate of what their total loses will be, they would be far better off filing their claims with Feinberg. They will suffer far less grief and be paid faster by a long shot from the government fund than waiting for any private lawsuit to work its way through the courts.
In some cases, where individuals or businesses actually have the savings or capital to wait it out, it is possible they could receive a higher amount by opting out of the $20 billion fund and going after the responsible corporations in private lawsuits.
There is only one major problem with that scenario, especially in Alabama.
The state Supreme Court is dominated by eight conservative Republican justices, elected largely with the help of former President George W. Bush’s political adviser Karl Rove and the conservative Business Council of Alabama. The high court has demonstrated in case after case that it has no regard for the rights of juries to decide actual and punitive damages in civil lawsuits in which individuals have been wronged by the malfeasance and negligence of greedy corporations.
One only needs to look at the case against ExxonMobile, where it was proved in court that the oil giant cheated the taxpayers of Alabama out of millions in oil and gas royalties. A jury found them liable of cheating the state out of $63.8 million and ordered them to pay an additional $3.5 billion in punitive damages. The conservative Supreme Court reduced the breach of contract award from $63.8 million to $51.9 million, and wiped out the $3.5 billion punitive damage award in its entirety.
Even if Beasley or another liberal trial lawyer were to make a compelling case and obtain a favorable jury verdict and a major financial award in court, the state’s high court would just toss the case out or reduce the verdict to virtually nothing.
Even if the cases were brought in federal court, the Eleventh U.S. Circuit of Appeals is also very conservative and dominated by Republican appointees, as is the United States Supreme Court now.
Until the legal community in Alabama and other states and the citizens get together and launch a major effort for court reform, “not tort reform,” and elect some Democrats to balance the state Supreme Court, it seems to me the citizens along the Gulf Coast would be better off trusting Feinberg and the Obama administration than greedy trial lawyers and a c

Catfish tells the truth "Mississippi Sound Tests Positive For Oil"

Mississippi Sound Tests Positive For Oil

photoCrossposted from Truthout
By Dahr Jamail and Erika Blumenfeld
On August 19, Truthout accompanied two commercial fishermen from Mississippi on a trip into the Mississippi Sound in order to test for the presence of submerged oil. James "Catfish" Miller and Mark Stewart, both lifelong fishermen, have refused to trawl for shrimp because they believe the Mississippi Sound contains submerged oil. Laboratory test results from samples taken on that trip show extremely high concentrations of oil in the Mississippi Sound.

The State of Mississippi's Department of Marine Resources (DMR) opened all of its territorial waters to fishing on August 6. This was done in coordination with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the US Food and Drug Administration, despite concerns from commercial fishermen in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida about the presence of oil and toxic dispersants from the BP oil disaster.
Laboratory confirmed oil-soaked sorbent pad. (Photo © Erika Blumenfeld 2010)
James Catfish Miller, third-generation fisherman.
James "Catfish" Miller, third-generation fisherman. (Photo © Erika Blumenfeld 2010)
"I can't tell you how hard it is for me not to be shrimping right now, because I'm a trawler," Miller told Truthout as he piloted his shrimp boat out of Pass Christian Harbor, "That's what I do. I trawl."
But Miller and Stewart have been alarmed by their state's decision to reopen the waters, and have been conducting their own tests for oil in areas where they have fished for years. Their method was simple - they tied an absorbent pad to a weighted hook, dropped it overboard for a short duration of time, then pulled it up to find the results.
Miller and Mark Stewart attaching the sorbent pad to the weighted hook.
Miller and Mark Stewart attaching the sorbent pad to the weighted hook. (Photo © Erika Blumenfeld 2010)
Hook with pad
(Photo © Erika Blumenfeld 2010)
Hook with pad closer.
(Photo © Erika Blumenfeld 2010)
Hook with pad close up with hand.
(Photo © Erika Blumenfeld 2010)
On each of the eight tests Truthout witnessed, the white pads were brought up covered in a brown oily substance that the fishermen identified as a mix of BP's crude oil and toxic dispersants.
The first test conducted was approximately one-quarter mile out from the harbor, and the pad pulled up was stained brown.
Man with pad.
(Photo © Erika Blumenfeld 2010)
"They're letting people swim in this," Miller exclaimed, while holding the stained pad up to the sun.
Miller and Stewart were both in BP's Vessels Of Opportunity (VOO) program and were trained in identifying oil and dispersants.
This writer took two samples from two absorbent pads that were brought up from the water that were covered in brown residue and had them tested in a private laboratory via gas chromatography.
Miller and Dahr Jamail holding oil-soaked sorbent pad.
Miller and Dahr Jamail holding oil-soaked sorbent pad. (Photo © Erika Blumenfeld 2010)
The environmental analyst who worked with this writer did so on condition of anonymity, and performed a micro extraction that tests for Total Petroleum Hydrocarbons (TPH). The lower reporting limit the analyst is able to detect from a solid sample like the absorbent pad is 50 parts per million (ppm).
The first sample this writer took was from a sorbent pad dropped overboard to a depth of approximately eight feet and held there for roughly one minute. The location of this was 30 18.461 North, 089 14.171 West, taken at 9:40 AM. This sample tested positive for oil, with a hydrocarbon concentration of 479 ppm. Seawater that is free of oil would test at zero ppm of hydrocarbons.
The second sample this writer took was from a sorbent pad dropped overboard to a depth of approximately eight feet and held there for roughly one minute. The location of this was 30 18.256 North, 089 11.241 West, taken at 10:35 AM. This sample tested positive for oil, with a hydrocarbon concentration of 587 ppm.
"For the sorbent pads, I had to include the weight of the actual pad itself, so that the extraction was done as a solid," the environmental analyst explained. "Had I had enough liquid in these samples to do a liquid extraction, the numbers would have been substantially higher."
Jonathan Henderson, with the nonprofit environmental group, Gulf Restoration Network, was on board to witness the sampling.
Jonathan Henderson, coastal resiliency organizer of the Gulf Restoration Network.
Jonathan Henderson, coastal resiliency organizer of the Gulf Restoration Network. (Photo © Erika Blumenfeld 2010)
"I can verify that the shrimp boat captain retrieved what appeared to be an oily residue," Henderson told Truthout. "My suspicion is that it was oil. It felt like oil to the touch, and it smelled like oil when you sniffed it."
On August 11, the two fishermen brought out scientist Dr. Ed Cake of Gulf Environmental Associates. (Video from the "Bridge the Gulf Project" of that trip with Miller and Stewart finding an oil and dispersant mixture on open Mississippi fishing waters.)
Dr. Cake wrote of the experience: "When the vessel was stopped for sampling, small, 0.5- to 1.0-inch-diameter bubbles would periodically rise to the surface and shortly thereafter they would pop leaving a small oil sheen. According to the fishermen, several of BP's Vessels-of-Opportunity (Carolina Skiffs with tanks of dispersants [Corexit?]) were hand spraying in Mississippi Sound off the Pass Christian Harbor in prior days/nights. It appears to this observer that the dispersants are still in the area and are continuing to react with oil in the waters off Pass Christian Harbor."
Shortly thereafter, Miller took the samples to a community meeting in nearby D'Iberville to show fishermen and families the contaminated sorbent pads. At the meeting, fishermen unanimously supported a petition calling for the firing of Dr. Bill Walker, the head of Mississippi's DMR, who is responsible for opening the fishing grounds.
On August 9, Walker, despite ongoing reports of tar balls, oil and dispersants being found in Mississippi waters, declared "there should be no new threats" and issued an order for all local coast governments to halt ongoing oil disaster work being funded by BP money that was granted to the state.
Recent weeks in Mississippi waters have found fishermen and scientists finding oil in Garden Pond on Horn Island, massive fish kills near Cat Island and Biloxi, "black water" in Mississippi Sound, oil inside Pass Christian Harbor and submerged oil in Pass Christian, in addition to what Miller and Stewart showed Truthout and others with their testing.
Stewart, third-generation fisherman.
Stewart, third-generation fisherman. (Photo © Erika Blumenfeld 2010)
"We've sent samples to all the news media we know, here in Mississippi and in [Washington] D.C.," Stewart, a third-generation fisherman from Ocean Springs told Truthout, "We had Ray Mabus' people on this boat, and we sent them away with contaminated samples they watched us take, and we haven't heard back from any of them."
Raymond Mabus is the United States Secretary of the Navy and a former governor of Mississippi. President Obama tasked him with developing "a long-term Gulf Coast Restoration Plan as soon as possible."
Mabus has been accused by many Gulf Coast fishermen of not living up to his task.
Thus, since neither the federal nor state governments will conduct the testing they feel is necessary, Miller and Stewart decided to take matters into their own hands.
Stewart had on board another homemade method of capturing oil in the water column. He took two tomato cages and filled them with sorbent pad, layered it in plastic to hold it together, and left a hole at the bottom for the water to flow through, creating a large sorbent cone that could flow through the water.
Stewart had on board another homemade method of capturing oil in the water column. (Photo © Erika Blumenfeld 2010)
The method proved fruitful. After several tests in the water column, being careful to never let it touch bottom, the cone was turned a dark brown with what turned out to be a very high concentration of oil.
"Normally we have a lot of white shrimp in the Sound right now," Stewart told Truthout of the current situation in the Mississippi Sound. "You can catch 500-800 pounds a night, but right now, there are very few people shrimping, and those that are, are catching nothing or maybe 200 pounds per night. You can't even pay your expenses on 200 pounds per night."
"We think they opened shrimp season prematurely," Miller told Truthout. "How can we put our product back on the market when everybody in America knows what happened down here? I have seen so many dead animals in the last few months I can't even keep count."
Jonathan Henderson holding the oil-soaked sorbent cone.
Jonathan Henderson holding the oil-soaked sorbent cone. (Photo © Erika Blumenfeld 2010)
On August 19, several commercial shrimpers, including Miller and Stewart, held a press conference at the Biloxi Marina. Other fishermen there were not fishing because they feared making people sick from toxic seafood they might catch.
Protesters with signs against BP.
(Photo © Erika Blumenfeld 2010)
"I don't want people to get sick," Danny Ross, a commercial fisherman from Biloxi told Truthout. "We want the government and BP to have transparency with the Corexit dispersants."
Ross said he has watched horseshoe crabs trying to crawl out of the water and other marine life like stingrays and flounder also trying to escape the water. He believes this is because the water is hypoxic due to the toxicity of the dispersants, of which BP admits to using approximately 1.9 million gallons.
"I will not wet a net and catch shrimp until I know it's safe to do so," Ross added, "I have no way of life now. I can't shrimp and others are calling the shots. For the next 20 years, what am I supposed to do? Because that's how long it's going to take for our waters to be safe again."
David Wallis, another fisherman from Biloxi, attended the press conference. "We don't feel our seafood is safe, and we demand more testing be done," Wallis told Truthout. "I've seen crabs crawling out of the water in the middle of the day. This is going to be affecting us far into the future."
"A lot of fishermen feel as we do. Most of them I talk to don't want the season opened, for our safety as well as others," Wallis added. "Right now there's barely any shrimp out there to catch. We should be overloaded with shrimp right now. That's not normal. I won't eat any seafood that comes out of these waters, because it's not safe."
Miller told Truthout that when he worked in BP's VOO program, "I came out here and looked at the oil and they didn't let us clean it up most days. Instead, I watched them spray dispersants on it at night, and now we're seeing acid rain burn holes in our plants. I've seen them spray Corexit from Carolina Skiffs with my own eyes. For the last several weeks now they keep shoving these lies in our face. You can only turn your head so far, for so long."
The hydrocarbon tests conducted on the samples taken by this writer only represent a tiny part of the Gulf compared to the massive area of the ocean that has been affected by BP's oil catastrophe. A comprehensive sampling regime across the Gulf, taken regularly over the years ahead, is clearly required in order to implement appropriate cleanup responses and take public safety precautions.
On their own, Miller and Stewart have made at least seven sampling runs, covering many tens of miles of the Mississippi Sound, and have, in their words, "rarely pulled up a sorbent pad that did not contain oil residue."
This work by Truthout is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.

FOR IMEDIATE RELEASE!

Survivors Village to hold community rally in St. Bernard Community to educate President Obama
Sunday, August 29, 2010
11 am

Fight Back Community Center
3820 Alfred St., New Orleans, LA 70122 (across from the 3800 block of St. Bernard Ave.)

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Who is Hurricane CREEKKEEPER, and Why?

I found this while surfing the web today. I had completely forgotten the interview.
It is a pretty good idea of what I do and why.

My home watershed, Hurricane Creek is the southernmost free-flowing stream in the Appalachian Mountain chain.
We have one tributary that is actually in the upper Coastal Plain while the rest is bedrock canyons and high bluffs. 

Friday, August 27, 2010

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED?

From Lower Mississippi RIVERKEEPER and Huffington Post


MISSION ACCOMPLISHED?

Dead Bird Island - Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana 

Aug. 19, 2010 - On a journey to take soil samples from the BP Spill we came across an island full of dead birds in various stages of decay. For more information or to support our ongoing efforts please visit  

 

Lower Mississippi RIVERKEEPER

 

Subsea Structures May Be in Seismic Danger Zone part 2

Gulf of Mexico Subsea Structures May Be in Seismic Danger Zone

BP's Atlantis - World's Deepest Moored Semisubmersible

Part 2:  Large 2006 Earthquakes of 6.0 and 5.2 Magnitude Strike the Gulf of Mexico–Unidentified Oil Rig Feels Shaking — Epicenter Relocated in Green Canyon

In 2003, the Mineral Management Service ordered an assessment of seismic activity in the Gulf of Mexico (GOM), which we discussed in Part 1 of this series.  There was concern then whether oil production assets appeared to be in the path of increasing seismic risks. Now, within approximately three years of that study, two more larger earthquakes strike in the GOM.  Let’s take a look at the history of those 2006 earthquakes.
The larger of the two earthquakes hit in September 2006.  It shook a broad area and received significant public notice.  The slightly smaller, but more threatening of the two occurred in February 2006. Its epicenter was in oil rich Green Canyon.  It was the one that stirred the most attention from the oil industry. The concern remains identifying the extent of the threat posed by seismic events in the GOM oil producing region. Will continued development risk increased danger to our environment?
On September 11, 2006 the news-wires were reporting a 6.0 magnitude earthquake that had struck in the Gulf of Mexico the day before.  The U. S. Geological Survey (USGS) summary of the event reported a strong earthquake located 250 miles south-southwest of Apalachicola, Florida at 8:56 a.m. MDT on September 10, 2006.  The earthquake shook hard enough to knock items from shelves and created seismic disturbances of oscillating waves appearing in swimming pools in parts of Florida.  Numerous cities in Florida felt the shaking. The strength of the event was substantial for the GOM.  USGS received reports that it was “felt” in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas.  Other areas outside of the United States that reported feeling the earthquake were The Bahamas and Cancun and Merida, Mexico. There were no reports of serious damage or casualties.

USGS Tectonic Summary

The official USGS report place the earthquake beneath the GOM far away from the nearest active plate boundary. Thus, the event was not located along a recognized fault line.  This phenomenon forms some measure of mystery over the cause of quakes in the Gulf.  The “midplate” earthquakes are much less common than “earthquakes occurring on faults near plate boundaries.”  It is thought that the most likely explanation for this earthquake is “long-term tectonic stresses” originating from forces applied at the plate boundary (located in the Atlantic Ocean).  At least one geologist with extensive experience in the Gulf of Mexico has departed from the establishment’s causal theories.  We shall discuss his beliefs later in the series.  The epicenter location is designated with a star in the map below.
Zoomed In Map of Earthquake Epicenter 9-10-06

The USGS says this earthquake was the largest of more than a dozen seismic events instrumentally recorded in the GOM in the past three decades.  It was also the most widely felt.

5.2 Magnitude Earthquake Shakes Unidentified Oil Rig

On February 10, 2006 a 5.2 magnitude earthquake struck in the oil producing Green Canyon region of the Gulf.  According to a USGS study the location of this earthquake stirred the interest of the petroleum industry as indicated in the following excerpt:
The offshore southern Louisiana seismic event has attracted much interest in the U.S. Gulf Coast energy industry, because of its location in an area of dense infrastructure associated with the production of petroleum (fig. 1). The event was felt onboard one offshore production platform (Rijken and Leverette, 2007) and at scattered locations along the U.S. Gulf Coast (U.S. GeologicalSurvey, 2008).
The location of the exact epicenter has attracted an extraordinary round of scientific inquiry.  Several studies have been done and published.  The USGS study referenced here was conducted to relocate the epicenter from it original setting. The task took into account data from private sources to supplement its own seismic readings.  While the exact point of the event remains elusive,  one private report puts an unidentified oil rig platform around 9.4 miles from the Green Canyon event.  The rig apparently escaped without damage to its SeaStar Tension Leg

Atlantis Rig – Located In Green Canyon
Platform (TLP) construction.  The crew onboard the unidentified rig reported feeling the vibrations of the earthquake. The Atlantis, owned by BP, was located near the original epicenter designated by USGS, although not yet in production.  It is the deepest moored semi-submersible platform in the world located in over 7,070 feet of water. At the time of this earthquake, the Atlantis had ocean-bottom node array of seismic exploration monitors taking readings. This information was incorporated into USGS relocation of the epicenter.  One presumes that the exact location of the epicenter becomes more important if it rests upon a highly valued oil prospect, where the building of subsea structures just might prove dangerous to life and environment. For whatever the reason, there was significant effort made to review the USGS initial finding.  The seismic data gathered presented some unusual seismic information, which proved challenging for the geologists.  The best that could be done was to establish a “preferred” location depicted in the map below:

The gray lines depicted in the map show the extensive subsea energy structures that may be threatened by continued seismic activity in the region.  Earthquakes are not reliably predictable under the best geological knowledge.  The difficulty here is evident from the 30 pages of evaluation of the various seismic wave data.  Some of the data was provided from monitoring equipment owned by BP which was operating around the Atlantis seafloor area.  Comparative information was also available from the CGG Green Canyon Phase VIII Multi-Client Survey.  The preferred epicenter was ultimately established 26 km north of the original center point.  This had the effect of moving the epicenter further away from BP’s Atlantis.   However, the accuracy of the determination remains subject to great doubt.  The source for the earthquake was left largely undecided with early speculation of a “landslide” loosing favor and the existence of an unidentified “fault” unknown.  The concluding remarks make this observation:
It is noteworthy, however, that the revised epicenter of the Green Canyon event lies near the USGS/NEIC epicenters of two earlier earthquakes – those of June 30, 1994 (mb 4.2) and December 9, 2000 (mb 4.2; Ms 4.3) (fig. 3).  As with the epicenter of the Green Canyon event, the epicenters of the earlier events are likely not determined with high accuracy. Nonetheless, extrapolating from the times of the three events, it appears that a region with linear dimensions of several tens of kilometers may be experiencing an earthquake of greater than magnitude 4 one or two times a decade, on average. If the earthquakes in this region are more numerous still at lower magnitudes, in keeping with most seismic regions worldwide, one might expect 10 or 20 shocks of magnitude 3 and greater in an average decade.
The widely held view among geologists is that there are no fault lines in the Gulf of Mexico to explain the source of seismic events.  Yet these scientists seem to be saying that the linear area, extrapolated from timing and location of earthquake events, may form a line of several tens of kilometers along which earthquakes are to be expected. Is this a fault line 100 to 200 miles long or what?  Does it increase the threat to oil production in the area?  What design changes or precautions should be taken?  Of course, any such discussion involves cost and adversely affects corporate profits. These seem to be appropriate questions.  My search has found no evidence of proposed precautionary measures even being discussed.  There has been no change in the Zone 0 seismic risk rating of the region.  There has been no study that I have found of what affect on seismicity the extraction of oil and gas may be causing in the Gulf.  I have been unable to find any new studies to expand these findings or test the existing structures.
Is there a coming major earthquake in the future of the Gulf of Mexico?  Are we likely to have an underwater Haiti?  There is cause for concern given the seismic events and USGS studies that have been discussed in Part 1 and 2 of this series.

Seismic Risk Questioned As Deep Water Development Increases part 1

Earthquake Activity in Gulf of Mexico Prompts 2003 Study for MMS

Part 1: Seismic Risk Questioned As Deep Water Development Increases

The Gulf of Mexico (GOM) is not known for its earthquake activity; however, a number of earthquakes ranging between 3.0 and 4.9 on the Richter scale caused enough concern for Mineral Management Services (MMS) to engage in a 2003 study of the likely performance of subsea oil production assets during small earthquakes.  The Gulf region is classified as Zone 0 for seismic risk.  This means that all shallow and deepwater development of crowded subsea structures including oil rigs and pipelines have not been designed or constructed to withstand earthquake activity.

2003 Assessment Ignores Risk Of Major Earthquakes

An Assessment of Seismic Risk for Subsea Production Systems in the Gulf of Mexico was conducted for and submitted to MMS in December 2003.  The 165 page study was performed and prepared by the Offshore Technology Research Center of Texas A & M University.  Increased earthquake activity in oil producing regions of GOM raised questions about the performance of deepwater subsea systems, which the study hoped to answer.

Note that the Macondo Well of the Deepwater Horizon disaster is located in Mississippi Canyon in Block 252 which places the cursed well within the region of seismic events.  The name Macondo is the same name as the fictitious cursed town in the novel “One Hundred Years of Solitude” by Colombian nobel-prize winning writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
It is frightening to envision what could result from a major earthquakc striking the heart of the oil producing region.

The study was based on engineer modelling.  Their analysis modeled various characteristics of the underwater structures, the Gulf seafloor, and sea currents, to determine if earthquakes would wreck the system.  The model only tested for the amount of shaking associated with smaller earthquake magnitudes normally seen in Zone 1 and Zone 2 areas.  Therefore, the study offers no guidance as to the amount of destruction that can be expected from earthquakes of higher magnitudes.  The fact that the Gulf of Mexico is rated a Zone 0 is not a guarantee that larger earthquakes will not occur in regions now crowded with underwater oil production and pipeline structures.

GOM Oil Development Boom Crowds The Seismic Risk

The number of subsea systems placed into production during the past 2o to 25 years has increased dramatically.  The sheer number alone of developments in deeper water heightens the risk.  The exposure of these systems involves earthquake shaking, liquefaction potential, and dynamic impact from soil sliding from nearby slope instability.  The expansion in recent years has been in deepwater as technology and discovery of new reservoirs have fueled the rush in development.  Recent reports of MMS waiving various environmental impact studies underscores the oil industries’ haste and avoidance of caution in pushing these developments. The Western and Central Planning areas as of March 2004 for Gulf of Mexico developments chart the vast regions involved.
The controlling factors in the design of offshore structures are the effect of environmental loads due to wave, current, wind and geologic activity.  The American Petroleum Institute requires that earthquake shaking, fault movement, and sea floor instability be accounted for in the design.  However, in Zone 0 seismic risk areas, like the GOM, the requirements for earthquake shaking do not apply to existing and future designs and construction.  The two maps below demonstrate the massive underwater pipeline system now totaling 44,000 miles and some 4,000 active wells:

GOM 4,000 Active Oil & Gas Platforms - NOAA 6-8-10

Report Considered Effects of Only Smaller Earthquakes

Low seismic risk does not mean that earthquakes are totally absent.  We have already mentioned that a number of earthquakes between 3.0 and 4.9 on the magnitude scale prompted the study.  Between 1978 and the date of the report in December 2003 the strongest quake was the 4.9 magnitude.  This one occurred near the Mississippi Fan region, which includes oil production systems.  It is thought that the cause of the earthquake was related to crustal subsidence due to sedimentation loading.  (Frohlich 1982)  ”Seismic events in other areas of the GOM seem to be associated with the plate boundaries in Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean.” (Frohlich 1982)  The primary source of earthquake recorded information in the GOM is the website for the National Earthquake Information Center.  Their records begin back in 1973 for the Gulf. There have been a total of eight earthquakes ranging from 4.0 to 4.9 magnitudes in the Zone 0 seismic risk area and a larger number of smaller quakes.

The tables 3.1 and 3.2 list the recorded earthquakes in the GOM, and Fig. 3.2 depicts the location of the epicenters of those seismic events taken from the tables.  The earthquakes in table 3.2 occurred in the Bay of Campeche area.  From 1974 thru 2003 there were 22 earthquakes, which is considered an infrequent occurrence.  This report was completed nearly three years before two of the strongest earthquakes occurred in the GOM in 2006. These tables were published as part of the assessment:



Significantly, eight of the epicenters occurred in the Mississippi Fan area and four of the epicenters were located further south and east of this area closer to the Florida Scarp.  The strongest being the 4.9 magnitude earthquake in the oil producing Mississippi Fan area.  The earthquakes in the Mississippi Fan area are thought to be associated with the plate boundaries in Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean. (Frohlich 1982)   However, there is another geologist who has extensive experience in the GOM with a decidedly different theory, which may prove very significant to the future.  This theory will be examined in the next article on the topic. Fig. 4.5 depicts the locations of Deepwater Subsea Systems in relationship to the epicenters of earthquakes in the oil producing areas.


Report Conclusions
The report concluded with a summary that was careful to point to the model criteria used for Zone 1 and Zone 2 seismic loads utilized on the subsea structures.  With those qualifications, the assessment found that the structures should perform acceptably if exposed to those loads.  However, the recommendations were cautious:
Recommendations
“1.  The impact of earthquake shaking on the integrity of a single and multiple casing foundation subsea structures is dependent upon a number of different factors that are specific to site and system requirements.  Seismic risk for proposed projects should be investigated for specific site conditions and equipment constraints.  Specific design information for a subsea system is critical in making a final assessment of the expected performance under site specific ground motions.
“2.  Based on the results from this study, earthquake shaking (within Zones 1 and 2 PGA values) should not dramatically impact the performance of deepwater subsea structures in the GOM.  However, further research should be conducted to determine the impact of sliding soil due to soil instability on the performance of these structures in the GOM.”
This assessment did not involve any inspections of existing subsea structures.  A note in the report suggests that the oil producing companies maintaining proprietary interests in the subsea structures were keeping them confidential.  At any rate, the report and engineering work was strictly done with modeling for the anticipated  forces  as well as structure installations.  The author has not found any further earthquake studies performed by or for MMS following this report despite the fact that two subsequent earthquakes of around the 6.0 magnitude occurred in 2006.

 

 

Identification HELP!!!!

This photo was posted to Facebook by Gulf Impact Project.



























I can make out...
"Sea and Land"
"Evaporating ?___Cant read_________"
"Dissolves _____Can't read________"
"Produces a Glea or clea... (Can't read)
"For IOF Boats and Seperating catch"
"Please dispose of properly"

Can anyone tell me what this is and what the writing means. If you have a description and use of the product please send ASAP!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A Crisis of Democracy: Real Solutions to the BP Oil Spill


 

A Crisis of Democracy: Real Solutions to the BP Oil Spill

For Gulf residents, the BP oil spill has made the problem of unchecked corporate power painfully clear. Exxon Valdez survivor Riki Ott on why this may be the moment to overcome our political divides and take back our democracy.
by

BP oil spill, photo by DigitalGlobe-Imagery
An enhanced satellite image of the Gulf oil spill, taken June 15, 2010.
When the Exxon Valdez oil tanker struck a reef in Alaska’s Prince William Sound, Riki Ott was living nearby in the small town of Cordova, working as a commercial salmon “fisherma’am”—one who also had her PhD in marine toxicology with a specialization in oil pollution. She had a unique front row seat to the destruction of a town, an ecosystem, and a way of life—and the losing fight to save them.
Twenty-one years after the Exxon Valdez, the company has only paid out a tenth of the initial assessment of punitive damages. Ott recognizes many of Exxon’s tactics in BP’s recent behavior: underestimating the size of the spill, downplaying and covering up damages, seeking to cap liability early on. She’s been on the ground in the Gulf since early summer, sharing her strategies for grassroots resistance and recovery. But the real crisis, she says, is bigger than this, or any, oil spill. It’s a crisis of democracy: Corporations have become so powerful that our political system isn’t able to rein them in enough to keep such disasters from happening or to hold them accountable when they do.
For Ott, the realization that corporate power was a fundamental threat came as she watched Exxon continue to profit while she and her neighbors lost their livelihoods, with few options for recourse. Now, in the Gulf, she’s seeing a similar awakening from residents working across political barriers to fight for justice from BP.
Ott believes this could be a breakthrough moment for reclaiming power from corporations. She spoke to YES! Magazine web editor Brooke Jarvis about the best strategies for using—and finally fixing—our democracy.

Brooke: Last week, BP announced that it will stop accepting new claims for damages; national newspapers are asking, “So where's the oil?" Is the disaster over?
Riki: [Laughs] Not if you look at my inbox! It all makes me wonder: Why this charade? Why this intense push to have it all be over? I think the closest analogy is when an insurance company wants to settle as quickly as possible after a car accident. They want to be able to say, "Sorry, you already signed this piece of paper, and we're not liable for that anymore." I think there's a lot of that going into BP's thinking right now. This toxic stew of oil and dispersants that got released into the Gulf is an experiment—it’s untested, so we don’t know yet how much damage it will cause. BP thinks if it settles now, it won’t have to pay for the destruction that becomes clear down the road.
The Exxon-Valdez showed us that oil spills do in fact cause long-term damage. The herring fishery in Prince William Sound is still closed—it's closed indefinitely until stocks recover, and we're talking 21 years now, not to mention a smaller amount of oil.
Brooke: In the Gulf, is anybody having a hard time seeing the oil, or its effects?
Riki: When the infamous pie chart came out, the media interpreted it to mean that 75 percent of the oil is gone. But “dispersed” oil is not disappeared oil—it may not be on the surface, but it’s in the water column, it’s lining the ocean floor, it’s in the food chain. If you add the parts of the pie that say “oil dispersed chemically” and “oil dispersed naturally” to the residual oil, the truth is that 75 percent of the oil is still there, just in a different form. Really, it’s convenient for BP that it’s not on the surface—and that may have played a role in the decision to use these toxic dispersants—because it makes it easier to pretend it’s gone.
Fishermen are finding false bottoms—the depth finder thinks the bottom is 12 feet down, but it’s really just a plume of oil and dispersants. They say, "No, we don't want to fish in this. We don't think the seafood is safe."
That day, I was at a meeting in Gulfport, Miss., with about 100 fisherman from four different states. People’s phones were lighting up with stories coming in of boats and planes spraying dispersants at night, of people sprayed and exposed and sick—I mean, sick to the point of throwing up brown and peeing brown—and stories of fish kills and bivalve kills. To be in Gulfport Miss., at the moment when this disaster is declared over while fisherman from four different states are getting phone calls from back home saying, "Oh my God, oh my God”—it was an amazing juxtaposition. The reality of harm was still happening even as BP and the federal government started the game of "It's all over."
That was a horrible week. I was trying to get people to emergency rooms and to find doctors who would diagnose their symptoms properly. People are sick, and what I find totally inexcusable is pretending all these illnesses are really something other than they are. My God, I talked to boom workers who were diagnosed with food poisoning and heat stroke back in May, who are still sick with the exact same symptoms. Do food poisoning and heat stroke last for three months?
Oil spill worker, photo by U.S. Coast Guard
And then there was the announcement that the seafood was safe to eat. The fishermen would like nothing better than to be back out harvesting seafood that is safe to eat. But they're the ones who are out there, finding false bottoms on their depth sonars—the depth finder thinks the bottom is 12 feet down, but it’s really just a plume of oil and dispersants. They've been lowering absordent pads in their pots, just to see what’s down there on the bottom. The pads come to the surface, dripping with oil—even though the surface is clean and sparkly blue. They say, "No, we don't want to fish in this. We don't think the seafood is safe."
Brooke: It must be infuriating to actually watch people turn away from you while there’s still so much suffering. What are people doing about it?
Riki: The bottom line is we’re still in the middle of a war here, trying to document as best we can this unfolding horror that’s being covered up. We’re trying to get people's spirits up, saying: "This is all part of the game, we've just got to take this to the next level now, keep hanging together, and exposing what’s happening. Get the photographs, get the stories, just keep documenting. There have been lies all summer. The only thing that has changed is the intensity ramped up. So, let's just keep out there.”
People down here wondered, "Why is the industry that pays a penalty based on how much oil it spills left in charge of saying how much it spilled?"
We’re putting a lot of our energy into community-based environmental studies. By that, I mean collecting data about air quality, water quality, public health, toxins in people’s blood. Many people don’t have confidence that their illnesses—the headaches, the sore throats, the blisters—are connected to the chemicals, simply because the federal agencies are telling them that there aren’t air or water quality issues. We’re doing sampling to prove that there are. We’re also trying to get a community health clinic set up in each of the affected states, and to help care providers recognize chemical illnesses.
Brooke: You wrote recently: "This contest is about far more than dollars or damages. It's about our country's ability to hold big, corporate criminals accountable to the public interest, and ensure that they follow the laws we enact." What does it mean to move beyond the immediate question of accountability for this one disaster to the bigger question of corporate accountability?
Riki: This BP disaster, like the Exxon-Valdez, is more than an environmental crisis—it's a democracy crisis. Right now we’re playing the game: going through regulatory arenas, tightening some laws. But that’s not good enough. The real question is, how do we get control of these big corporations?
It didn’t take long for people to start looking at this bigger issue, asking what we can do about corporations that are totally out of control. I would say, "Does anybody think the federal government is in charge?" And nobody would raise their hand. “OK, then who is?” I’d ask. “Is it ‘We the People,’ or ‘We the Corporation?’” Here, it is so clear that it’s the corporations. People are getting shoved off their beaches, told they can't have cameras, told they can't go near carcasses. It's like, "Wait! I thought this was America?"
Want to help support grassroots groups in the Gulf? Here are Riki's picks:

Louisiana Bayou Keeper
Hurricane Creek Keeper
Louisiana Bucket Brigade
Louisiana Env. Action Network
The Gulf Coast Fund
People are really connecting the dots about corporate power and the way this disaster’s been handled. First, there were the exemptions and the waivers that allowed BP to use improper equipment, which led to this oil spill. Then, it came out that BP wasn’t being honest about what, and how much, was really gushing out of that hole—they’d had high resolution images for a month that they’d never shared with the federal government. So people down here wondered, "Why is the industry that pays a penalty based on how much oil it spills left in charge of saying how much it spilled?" Then there’s the way they’ve kept the media—and ordinary people with cameras—away from the shorelines and the water and the carcasses. It’s a joke around here: People see the dead animals on the beach, or they see them collecting in ocean currents by the thousands, and they know they aren’t counted. People get threatened with arrest for even going near. The carcasses are not being kept for damage assessment, like they were after the Exxon-Valdez. Or when people report oil on the surface of the water, they’re not seeing it skimmed and collected; they’re coming back the next day and seeing these tell-tale bubbles where dispersant was sprayed.
People have started to ask, “How did BP get this much control? Why is the Coast Guard being used as a public shield—against us? Who’s in charge?”
Corporations have really learned to control these situations. They didn’t expect the environmental movement that resulted after the Santa Barbara blowout in 1969, which helped push legislation like the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and National Environmental Policy Act. But since then they’ve learned how to manage the fallout better and better. Really, that’s the biggest difference I’ve seen between the Exxon-Valdez and the BP blowout: Corporations know how to intentionally operate to get control of the government, the people, and the media. They’ve been very successful at it, and it shows.
The real change has been for the people who believed the government was going to take care of them.

All over the Gulf, people are saying: “I feel like a veil has been pulled off my face.” They’re ready to get to work to create a country that we thought we had.
Brooke: But with the spill and its effects really highlighting the impact of unchecked corporate power, is there a possibility for a breakthrough moment, a real movement to control corporations?
Riki: I’ve noticed that when there’s a disaster like this, people all tend to band together in defense of their way of life. The political frames start to get kind of wobbly. Reality is changing so fast right in front of their noses, and the way they thought the world worked all of a sudden doesn’t. There’s an opportunity to penetrate the frames that are normally pretty hard and tight and fast, keeping us divided as red or blue, liberal or conservative.
For example, when I was in Fort Walton, Florida—and this is just one example—we drafted a petition to get the EPA the authority to delist products the public doesn’t like (right now products can’t be unapproved, and that’s made it hard to get traction on banning Corexit, the dispersant). Everyone was wildly enthusiastic, including some people who asked for an electronic version so they could share it with their network of 70 tea party groups throughout the state of Florida. I about fell over. And they’re surprised, too, to find how much we have in common—I’ve had people in audience after audience say, with shock, “Nothing you said offended me.” Then they’ve asked me to come and speak about the evolution of corporate personhood and the demise of democracy. Groups in Tallahassee, Fla., and Jackson, Miss., have said they’d like to join Move to Amend, a national coalition to amend the U.S. Constitution to affirm that only human beings have Constitutional rights and non-living entities—or as I tell fifth-graders, things without belly buttons—don’t.
I think this BP disaster has really pushed people’s tolerance for accepting the myth that we live in a functioning democracy—whether they’re red or blue of Tea Party or whatever. After Citizens United was decided, 80 percent of Americans across the political divide said that they don’t think corporations should have the rights that people do. But now it’s becoming painfully clear why that’s so important.
You know, it’s the socially vulnerable people who see the corporate threat first, because it affects them first—they know who the law protects, because it’s not them. The real change has been for the people who believed the government was going to take care of them, and that the laws were going to work to protect them. They’re now saying, literally, the same things we were saying in Cordova after the Exxon-Valdez: “I feel like a film has been pulled away from my eyes, and I see how the world really works.” I’m hearing those exact same words in the Gulf: “I feel like a veil has been pulled off my face.” People are now waking up, and they’re ready to put their shoulders to this wheel, to work to create a country that we thought we had.
Brooke: What does that mean, in the communities you’ve been in in the Gulf coast? What are people doing to create a different kind of country?
We wanted a democracy by and for the people, and that means everybody has got to get out of their chairs and figure this out.
Riki: Well, many of them are joining the fight to curb corporate power. But it’s about more than theory and trying to pass a Constitutional amendment—it’s also about doing democracy in our own communities. Just doing it. Building the vision. I think enough of us realize where we need to go, and so it’s a matter of sitting down and figuring out, community by community, how we can be more self-reliant and more resilient. Starting Transition communities, getting our towns to sign the Kyoto Protocol, making our individual communities more self-reliant. Regional energy, regional food, local water. Growing gardens, strengthening neighborhoods, growing our businesses horizontally rather than vertically.
Let’s face it: Corporations are going to try to smash anything we build in the political arena. But if we do it in our communities, under their radar screen, we’re capable of so much. People always seem to think the change is outside of them. Really it’s about your own backyard. Democracy is messy, but it really does work when we all sit down and start listening to one another. And there’s no excuse for not doing it! We wanted a democracy by and for the people, and that means everybody has got to get out of their chairs and figure this out. Many hands make light work.

Brooke JarvisBrooke Jarvis interviewed Riki Ott for YES! Magazine, a national, nonprofit media organization that fuses powerful ideas with practical actions. Brooke is YES! Magazine’s web editor.
Interested?

Thousands of dead fish reported at mouth of Mississippi

Thousands of dead fish reported at mouth of Mississippi




Thousands of dead fish reported at mouth of Mississippi AFP/Getty Images/File – Waves wash oil onto the beach in May 2010 near the south pass of the Mississippi River into the Gulf … 
Photobucket 
NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana (AFP) – Thousands of fish have turned up dead at the mouth of Mississippi River, prompting authorities to check whether oil was the cause of mass death, local media reports said Monday.
The fish were found Sunday floating on the surface of the water and collected in booms that had been deployed to contain oil that leaked from the BP spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the Times-Picayune reported.
"By our estimates there were thousands, and I'm talking about 5,000 to 15,000 dead fish," St Bernard Parish President Craig Taffaro was quoted as saying in a statement.
He said crabs, sting rays, eel, drum, speckled trout and red fish were among the species that turned up dead.
Taffaro said there was some recoverable oil in the area, and officials from the state's wildlife and fisheries division were sampling the water.
But he added, "We don't want to jump to any conclusions because we've had some oxygen issues by the Bayou La Loutre Dam from time to time."

Monday, August 23, 2010