Archive for the ‘Global Warming’ Category

Obama In Michigan to Promote Electric Car Batteries   Leave a comment

You know, not to sound negative, but we are being invaded from an unsealed border, constantly, day after day, hundreds and thousands a week, without check or concern, bringing guns, drugs, violence, hate, and terrorism into our country, draining already struggling American taxpayers and American resources that are burdened already with very little job market and insane bills being forced through congress. . . and Obama’s in Michigan promoting car batteries?

*facepalm*

There really isn’t much to say in regards to this other than just . . . um . . .

*double facepalm*

I mean, I’m happy that there are jobs coming to Michigan, Lord knows they need them, but only 300?  You took Air Force One that WE the taxpayers pay for and FLEW to Michigan to say we are going to have electric batteries made in the US and will employ 300?  MAYBE 600, but you know these numbers are rounded up.  I’m happy that there is talk of jobs again but . . . um . . . the company could have announced that themselves and Obama could be taking that trip to the border in Arizona that he really should be taking in order to see for himself what this country is facing!  

It just…doesn’t seem right….

Ug, here’s the article:

Obama to promote electric vehicles in Michigan

By JULIE PACE, Associated Press Writer Julie Pace, Associated Press Writer – 1 hr 53 mins ago

WASHINGTON – Facing fresh criticism of his handling of the economy, President Barack Obama travels to Michigan on Thursday to promote investments in the electric vehicle battery industry, a sector the administration sees as a bright spot in the sagging recovery.

Obama will attend a groundbreaking ceremony for a plant that will manufacture advanced batteries for Chevrolet and Ford electric cars. The Compact Power plant in Holland, Mich., is the ninth factory to begin construction following the $2.4 billion investment in advanced batteries and electric vehicles Obama announced last August.

An Energy Department report to be released Thursday says the investments will increase U.S. production of advanced batteries from 2 percent to 40 percent of the world’s supply by 2015, creating thousands of jobs along the way.

“We’re going to build these products in America,” White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Wednesday. “We’re going to employ Americans. I think that’s a strong economic record.”

But recent polls suggest the public’s confidence in the president’s record on the economy is slipping. A Washington Post-ABC News poll conducted this month found that just 43 percent of Americans approved of Obama’s handling of the economy, down from 50 percent last month.

With unemployment expected to hover near 10 percent through November’s midterm elections, White House officials know they will have a tough sell with voters as they argue that the economy would be even worse had it not been for Obama’s $862 billion stimulus program.

Investing in electric vehicles has been a central tenet of Obama’s message on the economy and clean energy. He’s pledged to put 1 million plug-in hybrid electric vehicles on U.S. roads by 2015. The administration has said the $2.4 billion investment could spur the production of 50,000 batteries a year for plug-in hybrids by 2011 and 500,000 batteries a year for the advanced vehicles by late 2014.

Most of the batteries are now manufactured in Asia, and auto suppliers and manufacturers have sought ways to expand the battery industry in the United States.

Michigan is the largest recipient of the electric battery grants and is expected to receive more than $1 billion. About $150 million of that is going to the Compact Power plant. Administration officials say the construction project will create about 300 jobs, with an additional 300 workers hired once the factory is operational.

With Michigan facing 13.7 percent unemployment, the state’s governor says those jobs are welcome news.

“It’s clearly going to have an impact if we have a whole new sector added to our economy,” Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm said. “It’s not the only answer, but it certainly is a significant one.”

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Obama’s Oil Moratorium Denied Twice but Obama is Doing it Anyway   1 comment

Wow, seriously, check this out

What the heck is Obama’s problem?  I know he’s president and all, but he needs to stop trying to destroy our economy and do some ACTUAL WORK!  OBVIOUSLY this man cares more about environmental control issues than he does about people feeding their families!  NO MEANS NO, MR PRES!  Get over yourself!  You are NOT God!

It is just one disturbing thing after another with this guy.  I wonder what it would take for this country to band together to impeach him…

First, he passes the healthcare reform act without the consent of the people who it will affect the most and no one was allowed to read it!

Second, he’s attacking Arizona for requiring Federal Law to be adhered to, going COMPLETELY against his own people and even siding with a foreign power to fight this!!!!!!!!!!  Not only that, but he’s passing his Amnesty bill…er, I mean, ‘Comprehensive Immigration Reform’ and I reeeeally doubt he’s going to care what the American people have to say about it.

THIRD, he spirited in an individual to take a high-policy making position in the government that will affect 1/3 of the healthcare provided to our people and who has been dubbed ‘Obama’s One Man Death Panel’.  No one is allowed to get his view on VERY IMPORTANT ASPECTS OF HIS VIEWPOINT AND BELIEFS and NEVERMIND THAT HE WAS BASICALLY GIVING THE AMERICAN PEOPLE THE FINGER BY DOING SO!

This moratorium has been turned down TWICE and he’s going to pass it whether anybody wants it or not.

This man needs to be stopped!  Seriously people!!!!  This has GOT TO STOP!  He’s issuing rules and laws without consent of congress or the people!!!!

Typical Chicago style politics if you ask me 😦

Here is the article:

Officials: Gov’t to issue new oil moratorium

FREDERIC J. FROMMER, Associated Press Writer Frederic J. Frommer, Associated Press Writer – 31 mins ago

WASHINGTON – The Obama administration will issue a new revised moratorium on offshore drilling Monday.

Two administration officials have told The Associated Press of the plans. Both requested anonymity so as not to pre-empt the official announcement.

Last week, a federal appeals court rejected the government’s effort to restore its initial offshore deepwater drilling moratorium, which halted the approval of any new permits for deepwater projects and suspended drilling on 33 exploratory wells. It was first rejected last month by U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said at the time that he would issued a new, refined moratorium.

The administration says it wants to ensure that deepwater drilling is safe

Sexual Harassment Scandals in White House Cost Taxpayers $1 MILLION a Year!   Leave a comment

You know, this doesn’t surprise me at all.  Not ONE single bit. And note the title does not really say ‘congressional staffers’–I had to add that in.  Otherwise, at first glance, no one would know what the article was talking about.  And note that the only two congressional figures that are mentioned as being accused are Democrats.  I’m sure there were more, I’m not saying that Democrats are ‘crazed s*x poodles’ or anything, but I just find it sadly amusing and unsurprising nonetheless.

I wonder if Al Gore’s predation on that Massage Therapist is included in all of this.  Probably not since the media has already stopped talking about it.  He IS the Global Warming Scandal Prophet and thus if his career were to be sullied by such scandal, the entire cult would be leaderless and without direction! 

OH my, whatever shall we do?

Okay, back to seriousness.  Here’s the article.

Abused (congressional) staffers net nearly $1M a year

Politico

Taxpayers have paid out nearly $1 million per year in settlements to congressional employees who have been harassed or otherwise treated badly by their political bosses over the past 14 years, according to records from the Office of Compliance.

The payouts stem from hundreds of complaints from employees, some of whom may have been sexually harassed or treated so poorly that third-party mediators were brought in to negotiate cash payoffs to settle the cases.

In fiscal year 2007, for example, the OOC — an agency that administers a confidential dispute resolution system — settled 38 cases, with 25 resulting in monetary awards worth $4 million. In fiscal year 2009 — the most recent year reported by the OOC — the office settled 13 cases for nearly $830,000.

These settlements may be especially relevant if aides who were allegedly abused by former Rep. Eric Massa (D-N.Y.) seek restitution. Massa resigned under allegations that he sexually harassed male staffers. Quite often, the harassment cases, after a secretive mediation process, can land staffers retroactive raises, vacation time and cash payouts for their perceived pain and suffering.

For privacy reasons, the details of all these cases — including the names of the victims and the alleged harassers — are almost never made public. Lawmakers, regardless of whether they are guilty of workplace violations, do not pay a dime for the settlements, while taxpayers foot the bill for the lawyers.

An unprecedented new report to be released Tuesday by the OOC sheds light on the larger problem of harassment in the congressional workplace — the OOC is often stymied by members of Congress and at times left largely powerless to inform employees about their workplace rights.

When the OOC recently tried to make contact with the Hill’s 30,000 employees to send them a survey gauging their knowledge of workplace rights, the office was blocked from having access to congressional e-mail addresses; only 892 surveys were returned.

Despite the efforts of a few vocal supporters of the OOC and its mission, including Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) and Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), most workers do not realize the avenues of recourse that the OOC offers in cases of sexual harassment and other workplace disputes, while many members and chiefs of staff are not fully aware of their obligations as employers.

“Educating employing offices about their obligations is just as important as educating employees about their rights. Employing offices who remain unaware of their legal obligations in the workplace are unknowingly opening themselves up to lawsuits, which are expensive, time-consuming, distracting and bring unwanted publicity,” said OOC Executive Director Tamara Chrisler.

In a series of deep-background interviews done by POLITICO, aides and other Hill employees have complained about everything from unequal maternity leave policies to unwelcome advances to hostile treatment from members of Congress and other superiors.

“I wish I had known about the Office of Compliance,” one former aide to a Texas House member told POLITICO. “When the whole Massa thing came out, we heard about his staff reporting him and were shocked they could report their member. I feel bad for so many staffers who think they can’t stand up for themselves.”

Another Hill aide who is considering reporting a harassment case said: “There are times I’ve wanted to go over [to the OOC], but the general feeling is … you’ll be fired or blacklisted from the Hill.”

The Massa scandal may be a case study in the lack of awareness about the OOC and the inability of Congress to effectively police workplace harassment rules.

Massa staffers, according to their lawyers, suffered through sexual innuendo and similar behavior for months, unaware that they could seek counseling and mediation through the OOC, which was created to enforce the Congressional Accountability Act in 1995.

While the Massa case inspired House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) to begin working to improve the OOC’s visibility, the majority of Hill workers still have little to no knowledge of their rights — or the existence of the OOC — largely because of years of communication challenges, according to the OOC report.

Congress has exempted itself from having to inform employees about their workplace rights by posting notices in offices — a practice required by law in the public and private sectors. Congress is also not required to keep records that would show a paper trail of lawmakers’ past misbehavior.

“Being a Hill employee is different from other places because the job is about your name. Bringing a claim is like asserting you aren’t loyal enough. Someone who is loyal wouldn’t bring problems like this up,” said Alexis Rickher, an employment discrimination lawyer with Katz, Marshall & Banks who is currently helping represent one of Massa’s accusers. “With the Massa mess, it’s clear that the younger staffers didn’t have a sense of when things cross the line.”

The OOC is expected to gain access to at least part of the House e-mail system soon and to hold a forum during new member orientation. But no such collaboration is happening on the Senate side, according to aides close to the House’s project. The Senate Rules Committee, which helps oversee the OOC, did not respond to a request for information from POLITICO.

In the meantime, the process of settling workplace complaints remains secretive and byzantine, allowing members of Congress to quietly agree to cash payouts to settle cases and to keep potentially career-ending scandals under wraps.

The OOC offers employees a four-step resolution process. It includes initial confidential counseling, followed by mediation by a neutral third-party mediator. If the employee is dissatisfied with the mediation result, he or she can seek to have the case decided by a third-party hearing officer through the OOC or file a federal civil lawsuit.

“You could imagine the repercussions for a congressman if an allegation becomes public,” said employment lawyer George Chuzi, who represented Christine Niedermeier, a former aide who accused Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) of sexually harassing her several years ago. “It’s worth it to pay them, especially if it’s not their money, just to have the thing kept confidential. It’s worth it to them just to keep inappropriate allegations out of the public airwaves

Exxon Valdez 21 Years Later–A Warning to BP and Those Helping to Clean Up   Leave a comment

Exxon Valdez 21 Years Later—a Warning to BP and Those Helping to Clean Up

Here is an article from CNN, of all places, that I find extremely important.  It also harkens back to an interview that I posted about a week ago with a woman who was working directly with the BP clean up and how BP is not allowing any of its workers or volunteers to wear respirators when they work.  BP has also suspended the First Amendment from the spill sites, not allowing any news from private journalists to leak into the American public. 

And Obama is hiring big wig corporate types into high levels of government? 

Yikes!

Here is the article in all its chilling glory:

Critics call Valdez cleanup a warning for Gulf workers

By Drew Griffin, CNN Special Investigations Unit

July 8, 2010 10:33 a.m. EDT

Editor’s note: Watch “AC360°” tonight at 10 ET as CNN’s Drew Griffin investigates whether BP is trying to hide risks to cleanup workers.

Anchorage, Alaska (CNN) — Two decades ago, Roy Dalthorp helped clean up the rocky shores of Prince William Sound after the tanker Exxon Valdez ran aground, producing what was then the largest oil spill in U.S. history.

Today, with that record surpassed by the 11-week-old disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, Dalthorp struggles to breathe. He coughs, and his failing eyes sometimes tear up uncontrollably.

Dalthorp told CNN that he was “slowly poisoned” during the Alaska cleanup effort — and he says some of those now working to clean up the BP spill off Louisiana and neighboring states are risking the same fate.

BP says it is working with federal health and environmental regulators to make sure cleanup workers are protected from the hazards of the Gulf spill. But observers like Rikki Ott, an environmental activist who studied the Exxon Valdez spill, said cleanup workers in the Gulf are showing “the exact identical symptoms down here that we had 21 years ago.”

Dalthorp says his troubles started when the then-out-of-work oil worker joined the Exxon Valdez cleanup effort. For six weeks, he lived and worked aboard a ship that ran boilers to heat sea water. The 120- to 140-degree water was used to blast crude off the shoreline, and it left plumes of oily-smelling steam in the surrounding air.

“I had no choices, because I was behind on my house payments, and no health insurance,” he said.

Soon he began to cough. Teams from the Environmental Protection Agency were monitoring the cleanup, but “nobody ever checked with us,” Dalthorp said.

Tanker owner Exxon paid to study the effects of the spill on nearly every creature that came into contact with the 11 million gallons that were dumped into Prince William Sound — except people.

“Clams and mussels, to fish and otters, to ducks and eagles, and even deer and bears,” said Anchorage lawyer Dennis Mestas, who represented another worker who was involved in the cleanup. “But they never studied what this oil was doing to the workers — to the human beings in Prince William Sound.”

Mestas warns history may be repeating itself thousands of miles away in the Gulf of Mexico, with evidence of workers getting sick, and their medical records being controlled by BP.

Dalthorp never filed a workers compensation claim or had a doctor determine the cause of his illness. But Mestas said the man he represented — Gary Stubblefield, who he said “still struggles for each breath” as a result of the cleanup — sued Exxon over his illness. The oil company settled for a reported $2 million, without admitting any blame, after Mestas went to an Exxon office in Houston, Texas, and viewed medical records of cleanup workers.

Exxon had asked the court to keep those records under seal to protect the workers’ privacy. But Mestas said the company was forced to let him view summaries of the health records of 11,000 cleanup workers, and found that 6,722 of them had gotten sick.

In a statement issued to CNN, Exxon — now ExxonMobil — said it could not confirm that number. The workers hired for the cleanup “tended to be transient, temporary workers, making any medical follow-up incredibly difficult,” it said. And it noted that out of roughly 50,000 workers hired for the effort, “there were no adverse judgments rendered against the company.”

“After 20 years, there is no evidence suggesting that either cleanup workers or the residents of the communities affected by the Valdez spill have had any adverse health effects as a result of the spill or its cleanup,” the company said.

The issue has drawn the attention of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which has been holding hearings on the Gulf disaster. On July 1, the committee asked ExxonMobil to turn over all records related to the health of workers who took part in the Alaskan cleanup. The company says it is reviewing the request.

At the time, the government and the company called those illnesses the “Exxon crud,” a flu or cold that Exxon was not required to report to federal health officials. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health agreed, but Mestas said the agency “never looked at any medical records,” which were controlled by Exxon.

“The only epidemiology was that there were a few head colds that they could identify, and NIOSH didn’t have any of the records,” he said.

ExxonMobil told CNN that the institute had “full access to Exxon’s records” during its study.

Since the Gulf spill erupted in April, CNN has been receiving reports of fishermen hired to take part in the cleanup effort developing upper respiratory illnesses, nausea and vomiting.

Louisiana’s state health department reported 128 cleanup workers believed to have been sickened by exposure to oil by the end of June, with symptoms like dizziness, nausea and breathing issues. On a video provided to CNN by a state health official, one hospitalized fisherman says that “a lot of the other guys” had the same complaints.

In a statement to CNN issued Wednesday, citing state figures, BP said 21 people had “short hospitalizations.”

“Most workers reported having had symptoms that cleared up quickly resulting from exposures attributed to a variety of chemicals,” the company said. But it said that so far, air testing conducted by the EPA and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration have not found “a single reading above OSHA regulations to date.” And the company says there is no need to issue respirators to the cleanup workers based on those results.

BP says a database of injury and illness data is shared daily with state and federal health officials. It has 25 first-aid stations in the field and a clinic in Venice, Louisiana, that is run by federal officials.

But Ott, a marine biologist who studied the effects of the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill, says the symptoms being reported in the Gulf states are the same ones that hit workers in Alaska. And just like then, people with their backs against the wall financially are flocking to the take jobs with the cleanup.

“I’m feeling like BP is forcing them into this situation where BP holds all the cards, and BP is letting these workers get sick,” Ott said.

Obama Still Trying for Drilling Moratorium Case   Leave a comment

What IS it with Obama attacking states in court?  Should he not be listening to them and helping them rather than attacking them as though they are his enemy.  He wants to take jobs that would be effecting at least 20,000 people away for what?  What would the moratorium on oil rigs already in place and operating safely do?  His only agenda is to stop drilling and move towards ‘clean energy’.  I agree that we should be moving in that direction, but not while destroying the lives of tens of thousands of people.  He has done nothing to help them but bitch, bully and cry like a spoiled child not getting his way!  He needs to man up and do something constructive that doesn’t involve Big Brother Leftist Totalitarianism!

His plea for a 6 month moratorium was already denied in court.  Get over it, Obama.  You already got owned once.  What would appealing it do, unless you’ve fixed the ruling judges to see things your way?

It’s just sad.

Appeals court to hear drilling moratorium case

 

Thu Jul 8, 6:48 am ET

NEW ORLEANS – A federal appeals court is set to hear the Justice Department’s bid to delay a judge’s decision to overturn a six-month deepwater drilling moratorium.

A three-judge panel from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans is scheduled to hear arguments Thursday from lawyers on both sides of a lawsuit filed by companies that oppose the Obama administration’s temporary drilling ban.

The Interior Department says it halted new permits for deepwater projects and suspended drilling on 33 exploratory wells to protect the Gulf of Mexico from another environmental disaster while it studies the risks of deepwater drilling.

The government is asking the 5th Circuit panel for an order that would keep the moratorium in place while they appeal last month’s ruling

Obama Going to Beg in Nevada for Votes for Harry Reid and for the Democrat Party   Leave a comment

Okay, NOW is there any doubt that the Democrats are only worried about their votes in November, and scared they must be to be calling in ‘the big guns’.

Shouldn’t Obama be worried about OTHER things, like trying to fix the economy, doing something about the oil spill, or visiting the US border, sending troops there and fixing it.

Oh wait…he wasn’t doing any of those things to begin with!  My bad…

Obama as campaigner in chief in Missouri, Nevada

By ERICA WERNER, Associated Press Writer Erica Werner, Associated Press Writer – Thu Jul 8, 3:03 am ET

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama is talking to voters again about jobs and the economy. But he’s also concerned with two jobs in particular: Senate seats for Democrats in Missouri and Nevada.

With Democrats facing uphill battles in the November elections, Obama is combining a couple of economy-focused events Thursday and Friday with a campaign swing on behalf of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Missouri Senate hopeful Robin Carnahan.

Reid is in trouble in his bid for a fifth term, with unemployment sky-high in Nevada and Republicans working furiously to unseat him. Carnahan, Missouri’s secretary of state, represents a chance for a much-needed Democratic pickup of the Senate seat being vacated by Republican Kit Bond.

Obama will aim to energize their supporters Thursday with a sharply partisan message he’s been honing of late.

The man who pledged during his campaign to bridge partisan divides has begun playing into them as his party claws for political advantage. Obama’s been singling out individual Republican House members for comments he says show they care more about corporations than people.

Ahead of Thursday’s trip, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said voters could expect to hear Obama repeat his attacks on Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, who had to apologize for apologizing to BP PLC, the primary owner of the blown-out well spewing oil into the Gulf of Mexico, and House Minority Leader John Boehner, who contends his metaphor likening the financial crisis to an “ant” is being twisted by Democrats.

“Obviously, we’re getting much, much closer to the fall elections, and the president will have, will do more things leading up to that,” Gibbs said. “He has been very involved in raising money and in making an argument.”

A sitting president’s party typically loses seats in Congress during midterm elections. On top of that, Democrats are battling an anti-incumbent fervor fanned by high unemployment.

Nonetheless, Obama’s argument will in part be an economic one, starting with a visit Thursday to an electric truck manufacturer in Kansas City, Mo., that got money from last year’s big economic stimulus bill.

Obama has been trying to get voters to buy a message he himself acknowledges is a tough sell — that things would be a lot worse if the $862 billion stimulus bill had not passed. Obama also plans remarks on the economy Friday at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

In between he’ll be raising money for Carnahan and Reid. The pairing of official presidential events with campaign appearances lets the White House bill taxpayers rather than the candidates’ campaigns for most of the president’s travel costs.

In Nevada, Reid is welcoming the president to a state Obama won with 55 percent of the vote in 2008. Unemployment in Nevada is at 14 percent, the highest of any state, and the White House inevitably gets some of the blame. But so does Reid, and he needs all the help he can get with his approval ratings sagging under constant GOP attacks.

Reid is facing tea party-backed Sharron Angle, who was welcoming Obama with a reference to the kerfuffle the president caused in February when he asserted that people saving for college shouldn’t “blow a bunch of cash on Vegas.”

Obama has issued plenty of mea culpas since then to politicians and residents hypersensitive about protecting Las Vegas’ battered tourism industry. That didn’t stop the Angle campaign from issuing a news release reading a sarcastic message into Obama’s visit: “President Obama: ‘Don’t go to Vegas unless it’s to bail out Harry Reid.'”

Obama is to appear at a reception and dinner for Reid that are expected to reap about $800,000.

In Missouri, Obama will make his first fundraising appearance for Carnahan, who was out of the state in March when the president attended a joint fundraiser for Sen. Claire McCaskill and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. That caused speculation about whether Carnahan was purposely keeping Obama at arm’s length in a state he narrowly lost in 2008.

But her campaign said she welcomes his help. Obama will be appearing at a low-dollar reception for grass-roots supporters, and at a lunch and reception where tickets will range from $1,000 to $30,000.

Carnahan’s likely Republican opponent is GOP Rep. Roy Blunt.

___

Associated Press writer David A. Lieb in Jefferson City, Mo., contributed to this report

 

Another article on the same thing with the same spin and OH MY Obama is reeeeally reaching!

Obama makes case for voting Democratic in November

By ERICA WERNER, Associated Press Writer Erica Werner, Associated Press Writer – 10 mins ago

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – President Barack Obama implored heartland voters Thursday to believe his economic policies averted impending disaster, pushing a hard-to-swallow message to people whose support Democrats need this November.

“What is absolutely clear is we’re moving in the right direction, we’re headed in the right direction,” Obama said at an electric truck factory here, before a pair of campaign appearances for Senate Democratic candidates in Missouri and Nevada.

Yes, we’re moving in the right direction…if we were a communist, socialist country

Obama jabbed Republicans who are threatening to swamp his party in the upcoming elections, though none by name. “There are some people who make the political calculation that it is better to say no to everything than lend a hand,” he said.

After his appearance at Smith Electric Vehicles, Obama was raising money in Missouri for Democratic Senate hopeful Robin Carnahan. Then it was on to Nevada to campaign for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, facing a tough road to a fifth term.

Again, aren’t there more IMPORTANT things going on, or is campaigning really all he knows how to do?

Obama’s tone was sometimes aggrieved as he suggested he wasn’t getting credit for helping the economy.

“You wouldn’t know it from listening to folks, but we cut taxes” for the middle-class, he said.

Really?  What taxes did you cut?  What about all those NEW taxes that are going to start coming at us in January for your socialist healthcare? 

>sigh<

Nuke the BP Well? Really?   1 comment

Apparently that is a topic under discussion.  Well, it has been for a while, or at least it has been rumored so, but this is the first time I’ve seen it in the mainstream media.

This just has ‘Armageddon’ type overtones and undertones all through it.  Has anyone ever read ‘On the Beach’?  Okay, NOT exactly the same thing, but still the prospects of what could happen after an ‘oops’ is pretty shockingly real.  (Oh, and please don’t read that book if you are prone to depression–it is NOT a mood lifter!)

Nuke the BP well? Idea has backers, but more critics

Russian experience touted — and ridiculed; radiation, bigger blowout, time are factors

MOSCOW/WASHINGTON — His face wracked by age and his voice rasping after decades of chain-smoking coarse tobacco, the former long-time Russian minister of nuclear energy and veteran Soviet physicist Viktor Mikhailov knows just how to fix BP’s oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico.

“A nuclear explosion over the leak,” he says nonchalantly puffing a cigarette as he sits in a conference room at the Institute of Strategic Stability, where he is a director. “I don’t know what BP is waiting for, they are wasting their time. Only about 10 kilotons of nuclear explosion capacity and the problem is solved.”

A nuclear fix to the leaking well has been touted online and in the occasional newspaper op-ed for weeks now. Washington has repeatedly dismissed the idea and BP execs say they are not considering an explosion — nuclear or otherwise. But as a series of efforts to plug the 60,000 barrels of oil a day gushing from the sea floor have failed, talk of an extreme solution refuses to die.

For some, blasting the problem seems the most logical answer in the world. Mikhailov has had a distinguished career in the nuclear field, helping to close a Soviet Union program that used nuclear explosions to seal gas leaks. Ordinarily he’s an opponent of nuclear blasts, but he says an underwater explosion in the Gulf of Mexico would not be harmful and could cost no more than $10 million. That compares with the $3 billion BP has paid out in cleanup and compensation costs so far. “This option is worth the money,” he says.

And it’s not just Soviet boffins. Milo Nordyke, one of the masterminds behind U.S. research into peaceful nuclear energy in the 1960s and ’70s says a nuclear explosion is a logical last-resort solution for BP and the government. Matthew Simmons, a former energy adviser to U.S. President George W. Bush and the founder of energy investment-banking firm Simmons & Company International, is another calling for the nuclear option.

Even former U.S. President Bill Clinton has voiced support for the idea of an explosion to stem the flow of oil, albeit one using conventional materials rather than nukes. “Unless we send the Navy down deep to blow up the well and cover the leak with piles and piles and piles of rock and debris, which may become necessary … unless we are going to do that, we are dependent on the technical expertise of these people from BP,” Clinton told the Fortune/Time/CNN Global Forum in South Africa on June 29.

Clinton was picking up on an idea mooted by Christopher Brownfield in June. Brownfield is a one-time nuclear submarine officer, a veteran of the Iraq war (he volunteered in 2006) and now a nuclear policy researcher at Columbia University. He is also one of a number of scientists whose theories rely not on nuclear bombs — he did toy with that thought for a while — but on conventional explosives that would implode the well and, if not completely plug it with crushed rock, at least bring the flow of oil under control. “It’s kind of like stepping on a garden hose to kink it,” Brownfield says. “You may not cut off the flow entirely but it would greatly reduce the flow.”

Blasts from the past
Using nuclear blasts for peaceful ends was a key plank of Cold War policy in both the United States and the Soviet Union. In the middle of last century, both countries were motivated by a desire to soften the image of the era’s weapon of choice.

Washington had big plans to use peaceful nuclear explosions to build an additional Panama Canal, carve a path for an inter-state highway through mountains in the Mojave Desert and connect underwater aquifers in Arizona. But the experimental plans were dropped as authorities learned more about the ecological dangers of surface explosions.

The Soviet program, known as Nuclear Explosions for the National Economy, was launched in 1958. The project saw 124 nuclear explosions for such tasks as digging canals and reservoirs, creating underground storage caverns for natural gas and toxic waste, exploiting oil and gas

deposits and sealing gas leaks. It was finally mothballed by Mikhail Gorbachev in 1989.

The Soviets first used a nuclear blast to seal a gas leak in 1966. Urtabulak, one of its prized gas-fields in Uzbekistan, had caught fire and raged for three years. Desperate to save the cherished reserves, Yefim Slavsky, then Minister of Light Industry, ordered nuclear engineers to use the most powerful weapon in their arsenal.

“The minister said, ‘Do it. Put it out. Explode it,'” recalls Albert Vasilyev, a young engineer and a rising star in the project who now teaches at the Lenin Technical Institute in Moscow.

Vasilyev remembers the technology behind the program with obvious pride. “The explosion takes place deep underground,” he says. “We pinch the pipe, break it and the pipe collapses.” According to Vasilyev, the blast at Urtabulak sealed the well shut leaving only an empty crater.

In all, the Soviets detonated five nuclear devices to seal off runaway gas wells — succeeding three or four times, depending on who you talk to. “It worked quite well for them,” says Nordyke, who authored a detailed account of Soviet explosions in a 2000 paper. “There is no reason to think it wouldn’t be fine (for the United States).”

But not everything went smoothly. Vasilyev admits the program “had two misfires”. The final blast in 1979 was conducted near the Ukrainian city of Kharkov. “The closest houses were just about 400 meters away,” Vasilyev recalls. “So this was ordered to be the weakest of the explosions. Even the buildings and the street lamps survived.” Unfortunately, the low capacity of the device failed to seal the well and the gas resurfaced.

Alexander Koldobsky, a fellow nuclear physicist from the Moscow Engineering and Physics Institute, insists the peaceful nuclear explosions were safe. The people who worked on the program “were brilliant professionals”, he says. “They had a culture of safety, which did not accept the word ‘maybe’, but only accepted the words ‘obligation’ and ‘instruction.’ Any derivation from these in nuclear technologies is a crime.”

Still, he concedes, “there were different scenarios of what happened after an explosion.” At his first blast in a Turkmen gas field in 1972, “the stench was unbearable,” he says. “And the wind was blowing toward a nearby town.” He closes his narrow lips into a smile as if refusing to say more.

Koldobsky shrugs off any suggestion of fear or emotion when the bomb exploded. “I felt nothing. I was just doing my job.”

Chernobyl to America?
Not everybody is so sanguine about the Soviet experience. Speaking on condition of anonymity, an expert from Russia’s largest oil exporter Rosneft, urges the United States to ignore calls for the atomic option. “That would bring Chernobyl to America,” he says.

Vladimir Chuprov from Greenpeace’s Moscow office is even more insistent that BP not heed the advice of the veteran Soviet physicists. Chuprov disputes the veterans’ accounts of the peaceful explosions and says several of the gas leaks reappeared later. “What was praised as a success and a breakthrough by the Soviet Union is in essence a lie,” he says. “I would recommend that the international community not listen to the Russians. Especially those of them that offer crazy ideas. Russians are keen on offering things, especially insane things.”

Former Minister Mikhailov agrees that the USSR had to give up its program because of problems it presented. “I ended the program because I knew how worthless this all was,” he says with a sigh. “Radioactive material was still seeping through cracks in the ground and spreading into the air. It wasn’t worth it.”

“Still,” he says, momentarily hard to see through a cloud of smoke from his cigarettes, “I see no other solution for sealing leaks like the one in the Gulf of Mexico.”

The problem, he goes on, is that “Americans just don’t know enough about nuclear explosions to solve this problem … But they should ask us — we have institutes, we have professionals who can help them solve this. Otherwise BP are just torturing the people and themselves.”

Nordyke too believes the nuclear option should be on the table. After seeing nine U.S. nuclear explosions and standing behind the control board of one, he estimates that a nuclear bomb would have roughly an 80 to 90 percent chance of successfully blocking the oil. According to his estimates, it would have to be an explosion of around 30 kilotons, equivalent to roughly two Hiroshima bombs or three times as big as Mikhailov’s estimate. The explosion would also need to remain at least 3 to 4 miles away from other offshore wells in the area.

The bomb, says Nordyke, would be dropped in a secondary well approximately 60-70 feet away from the leaking shaft. There it would create a large cavity filled with gas. The gas would melt the surrounding rock, crush it and press it into the leaking well to close it shut.

Although the BP well is thousands of feet deeper than those closed in the Soviet Union, Nordyke says the extra depth shouldn’t make a difference. He also says that so far below the ground, not much difference exists in onshore or underwater explosions — even though the latter have never been tried.

Nordyke says fears that radiation could escape after the explosion are unfounded. The hole would be about 8 inches in diameter and, despite the shockwave, the radiation should remain captured. Even in the case of radiation escape, he says, its dispersed effect would be less than that of floating oil patches.

Bigger blowout a possibility
But don’t expect an explosion under the Gulf of Mexico any time soon. Even a conventional blast could backfire and cause more problems. There is a chance any blast could fracture the seabed and cause an underground blowout, according to Andy Radford, petroleum engineer and American Petroleum Institute senior policy adviser on offshore issues.

The U.S. Department of Energy has no plans to use explosives “due to the obvious risks involved,” according to a DOE spokeswoman.

There’s also the question of time. Preparations for a nuclear explosion could take up to half-a-year; BP has said it will have a relief well in place to stop the leak by August. “I think it has to be considered as only the last resort,” Nordyke says. But “they ought to be thinking about it.”

Would he be willing to work on such an operation? “I’d be happy to help,” he says.