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By Staff | Jun 11, 2010

At the first press conference about BP’s busted Gulf oil well, I watched a U.S. Coast Guard Vice-Admiral answer questions, giving responses that were obvious they were based solely on information BP had spoon-fed to USCG.

I sensed that she really had not gotten her mind around the potential scope of the disaster. I came away with the impression that this could blow up into something really significant and the Coast Guard Vice-Admiral was way behind the curve.

Today, we know that they were not even on the track. BP has thrown the best minds and the best technology at plugging their broken well and they have all failed. Now, maximum effort will be put into containing the oil, gathering it until they can drill relief wells, a process they see taking until August.

We would assume that’s not a 100 percent certainty of shutting off the oil. BP is putting full attention and effort into ending this environmental disaster, but they are also lawyered-up with company officials and spokesmen, carefully crafting their words as they might hear them read back to them in a court someday.

The next great risk is that NOAA forecasts eight to 14 hurricanes this year – 7 big ones. The Atlantic is warm, fostering more and bigger storms. Peak hurricane season is from August to September. Not only could storms interfere with drilling efforts and oil containment, but a major hurricane could take that oil and push it far inland, devastating an even bigger portion of the Gulf Coast.

The deeper investigations delve into what went wrong, the more profound is the evidence that it was human error compounded by technical and mechanical failure.

The government wasn’t ready for this, because it was never supposed to happen. BP has been all over the place in its public relations management, ranging from minimalizing the damage initially, then an attempt at marginalizing it, until it became obvious that wasn’t going to work, to now hoping that by covering it up with a cap, the networks and viewers will not see the oil and gas spewing from their busted pipe aired every few minutes on cable news channels.

Most people have used a high-pressure sprayer. Those that have still find it difficult to conceive of gas and oil blasting out of a 22-inch pipe at 2,300 pounds per square inch.

There are a number of things that are puzzling. How is it that BP can kill fishing/shrimping in the “dead zone?” It must not have been as dead as environmentalists had told us.

Another is why EPA hadn’t rendered a conclusion long ago on the safety of dumping hundreds of thousands of gallons of diesel disbursements into the Gulf. Dilution might not be the solution to pollution in this instance. The EPA says it had no money to research this, but the oil industry should have provided it.

It’s been described by the ethanol industry as a teaching moment. I could bluntly phrase what the biofuels industry is thinking – “How dumb are you people that don’t support and use ethanol?” Before this disaster, California was going to drill more offshore and stop using ethanol because some farmer in Brazil may grow more soybeans.

How stupid is that? The California Carbon Board didn’t even use good science as Purdue University calculates they inflated the carbon scoring of ethanol by twice over what it is to arrive at their mistaken conclusion.

You can dump a year’s worth of raw ethanol production, all 12 billion gallons, in the Gulf with a negligible environmental impact. It is no more toxic than corn liquor, which is why ethanol companies are required to add chemicals to it, so no one can drink it.

It’s going to be a long time until they sort this mess out and start drilling offshore again. Mining tar sands in Canada for oil is not an environmental answer. A nuclear power plant accident (3 Mile Island) stopped development of nuclear power plants for decades. This accident will not stop offshore drilling for decades, but it will take a long time until BP drills another well in the Gulf.

The oil industry failed an obligation to keep the environment safe, while supplying America’s energy needs. The disaster is not over until the oil stops flowing and the lake of oil is cleaned up. Obama’s Katrina may be soon picking up steam in the warm Atlantic when all the surface ships now working the well will have to weigh anchor and abandon it for hurricanes.

Government regulators have been imbedded with surrogates of the oil companies. It’s no different than what we saw with George W’s USDA. Packer surrogates ran meat and livestock industry regulation serving in government and then being rewarded by the companies later with a lucrative job for the lack of regulation done as government officials.

This is how the Republicans undermine regulation, with a system corrupted, but legal.

I can show my ire to BP by always driving past BP stations. When the President asks for votes next time, he will get some of the same treatment as BP. If BP comes away from this disaster with any assets still intact, we will then know that BP stands for we, “Beat the People!”

We need to see a drastic improvement of what has been a half-ass effort toward implementation of the needed adoption of biofuels by this administration. Congress and Californians do not get it.

David Kruse is president of CommStock Investments Inc., author and producer of The CommStock Report, an ag commentary and market analysis available daily by radio and by subscription on DTN/FarmDayta and the Internet.

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