It’s been more than 30 days since the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded and the well nearly a mile below on the sea floor began to erupt oil and methane, killing 11 of our fellow citizens and injuring even more both immediately and in the continuing damage which followed.
And nothing has happened of any consequence since then.
Oh, we’ve had a Category 5 hurricane of hot air, some decent questions from Congressional hearings, but zippo-zilch-nada in the way of an effective solution. (I pity the people of the Gulf who had to deal with another hurricane they couldn’t escape.)
We had a big metal box set over the leak, not to stop it but to try to capture the oil. Anybody with the wherewithal to Google could predict this was going to fail because of the hydrates. They crystallize on contact with a solid surface in deepwaters below the average depth of the Continental Shelf.
And then we’ve had a tiny little pipsqueak of a hose nosed into the well pipe, which might as well have been a toothpick stuck in our mouths.
Now the White House is having a hissy behind closed doors with the media because dammitall, they can’t stop asking questions about the spill. Oh that’ll work, that’ll make a difference; the biggest environmental disaster our country has experienced will go away if only the media shuts up about it.
Screw that. This has been nothing but a corporate-induced environmental and socio-biological experiment perpetuated on our commons without our consent, and the American public doesn’t take well to experimentation without debate in advance. Witness our slow-moving policy on stem cell research, for example. We don’t frigging like it.
And screw the White House for its insistence that the Fourth Estate stop pestering them and begone. The people have been demanding accountability through our elected representatives in the legislature, but it’s like maneuvering a massive battleship, one that is intended for the making of laws and not their execution.
But it’s the Executive Branch which is charged with the faithful execution of our laws, and it’s failing to do so. It has not done a competent job of communicating with the public or the media would not be hammering on them as they are for more information — and for once, the media is actually doing what we need of them, not what their corporate lords and masters expect.
Instead of scolding the press, the White House should be asking itself why it’s being pestered. Why has "oil spill" remained a trending topic among internet searches across various outlets for more than a month?
It’s because we want ACTION, not more words. We want the damned well capped and we want it capped yesterday, and no, we don’t want to leave this to a negligent corporation which has consistently failed to act in good faith. We want the Executives we elected to office to execute. Do something, for god’s sake.
I’ve had a list of action items for a while now, in fact, if the White House cannot find actionable items of their own. You know that popular site, Getting Things Done? Yeah, well you can call this Get Sh*t Done Now. Here’s my GSDN list as it is right now which I gladly submit for the White House’s immediate consideration and implementation:
1) Obama needs to use that goddamned unitary executive power he’s been clinging to and declare a state of emergency in federal waters along the Gulf of Mexico, using an Executive Order. This is now an international situation, not just an American one, because the oil will eventually end up in the North Atlantic.
2) Declare British Petroleum in violation of its lease and kick them off the site. Threaten to seize all American assets of BP-America immediately if they do not assist in setting up a claims system which will be administered and overseen by the U.S. and paid by BP. (Hire all those poor Sallie Mae folks who were going to lose their jobs because of student loan reform for this purpose. /snark)
3) Ask the Department of Energy’s Steve Chu to create a skunkworks rapid solutions team from NASA and DARPA along with schools which specialize in oceanography, mechanical technology, geology, and computer modeling. Stop waiting for the nice old farts they pulled from JASON because this is an emergency, goddamnitall, we don’t have time for them to come up with a vetted, peer-reviewed whitepaper on this. Don’t listen to anybody’s crap about so-called experts on deepwater drilling and how they’ll solve the problem. As my 16-year-old said, "If there’s experts, where are they? Show me one." Yeah. What she said.
4) Threaten to kick Ken Salazar to the curb if he doesn’t not immediately have every one of the 15+ deepwater offshore drilling sites reevaluated; every evaluation must be on POTUS desk inside 15 days from the date the Executive Order. And we want the evaluations made public — no more of this bullshit opacity the White House calls transparency. No excuses; all this stuff should have been submitted when BP and the other oil industry firms applied for the leases to begin with.
5) Approach corporations to develop an X-Prize type program to develop a private solution in tandem with the skunkworks solution. Ask Congress to create a special R&D tax credit for firms which donate money to the X-Prize for development.
6) Approach Florida State University (which now owns the former Scripps’ Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute and its submersibles) along with Mississippi State (which has an oceanography program) and ask them to work with NIUST to develop models of the plume’s distribution, along with identifying the impact short and long-term on the ocean bottom and the ecosystem above it.
7) Suck up the arrogance and pride and ask the elder statesman of the environment to be the face of this effort. Ask Al Gore to do the legwork with the corporations and educational facilities whose cooperation is needed. Tell him this is to be used as an example of what people can do for the larger environment if they focus on this problem first. If they can solve this, they can solve the big problems.
8) Tell the Catfood Commission (read: Presidential Deficit Commission) to find a way to shoehorn in funding for an alternative energy Apollo Program or Marshall Plan. If you have to find a front man, go to Al Gore because this was his idea back in 1992. Jeebus, catch a clue and use the resources you have already; Gore wrote it all out for you in 1992.
9) Call that lazy-assed sad-sack Joe Lieberman and tell him whatever super-secret-y deal you guys have going in the way of a quid pro quo is off if Lieberman cannot find some reason to investigate the relationships between Department of Interior and any corporation with which it deals. Make the call private, and tell him if he doesn’t have hearings within 15 days you are going to publicly call him on the carpet for the benefit of CT voters every chance you get until 2012.
10) You know damned well if they cut corners in the Gulf of Mexico, they did it elsewhere. Threaten to go for the jugular on them if they don’t continue to play ball with clean-up in the Gulf.Take a bunch of bloggers up to BP’s operations in Alaska and let them roam around for a couple weeks. Make BP pay for it — figure it out, you have the EO in one hand and the power to print money in the other. Keep the pressure on BP until they beg for mercy.
11) And right now I’m tempted to tell one Barack Obama to get really, genuinely excitedly-upset, be more than that Spock character for once, add the passion of Captain Kirk and the anger of Dr. McCoy in the mix. That fakery last week only made us heave with nausea. And Rahm? Just bite me; whatever counsel you’ve offered Mr. Spock-the-President has been both incompetent and impotent.
If I could sit and stew a while longer on this and not elevate my blood pressure, I could come up with a lot more. But I’m sure you have more ideas of your own. What do you want to tell this White House to do about the spill? Be specific, stick to workable suggestions — this is not an invitation to a flame war. Give the Executive Branch plenty of reasons to do something instead of nothing but flogging the media.