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June 30, 2010

Top 10 Things Obama Can Do In Gulf, Apart From "Sucking It Up With A Straw"

Unfortunately, the list does not include "Work on my putting" or "Sing-a-long with Sir Paul."

So this might be out of Obama's wheelhouse.

Still, here are few things he can do with a penstroke, which I trust even he is capable of doing.

Here are two related ones:

4. Release the S.S. A-Whale: The S.S. A-Whale skimmer is a converted oil tanker capable of cleaning 500,000 barrels of oil a day from the Gulf waters. Currently, the largest skimmer being used in the clean-up efforts can handle 4,000 barrels a day, and the entire fleet our government has authorized for BP has only gathered 600,000 barrels, total in the 70 days since the Deepwater Horizon explosion. The ship embarked from Norfolk, VA, this week toward the Gulf, hoping to get federal approval to begin assisting the clean-up, but is facing bureaucratic resistance.

As a foreign-flagged ship, the S.S. A-Whale needs a waiver from the Jones Act, but even outside that three-mile limitation, the U.S. Coast Guard and the EPA have to approve its operation due to the nature of its operation, which separates the oil from the water and then releases water back into the Gulf, with a minor amount of oil residue. The government should not place perfection over the need for speed, especially facing the threat of an active hurricane season.

...

7. Waive or Suspend EPA Regulations: Because more water than oil is collected in skimming operations (85% to 90% is water according to Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen), operators need to discharge the filtered water back into the Gulf so they can continue to collect oil. The discharged water is vastly cleaner than when it was skimmed, but not sufficiently pure according to normal EPA regulations. If the water has to be kept in the vessel and taken back to shore for purification, it vastly multiples the resources and time needed, requiring cleanup ships to make extra round trips, transporting seven times as much water as the oil they collect. We already have insufficient cleanup ships (as the Coast Guard officially determined); they need to be cleaning up oil, not transporting water.

Note that 85-90% is not about the purity of the cleaned water, but of the water that is collected.

With the stroke of a pen Obama can waive this ludicrous requirement and permit skimmers that merely scrub 99% or even 98% of oil from water.

But apparently he thinks it's better to have the oil washing up on our beaches.

Meanwhile, Hurricane Alex approaches, and may hit Texas, and it's already pushing oil up on Gulf shores.

Rough seas generated by Hurricane Alex pushed more oil from the massive spill onto Gulf coast beaches as cleanup vessels were sidelined by the far-away storm's ripple effects.

The hurricane was churning coastal waters across the oil-affected region on the Gulf of Mexico. Waves as high as 6 feet and winds over 25 mph were forecast through Thursday just off shore from the Mississippi Delta in Louisiana to the Florida Panhandle.

In Louisiana, the storm pushed an oil patch toward Grand Isle and uninhabited Elmer's Island, dumping tar balls as big as apples on the beach.

"The sad thing is that it's been about three weeks since we had any big oil come in here," marine science technician Michael Malone said. "With this weather,we lost all the progress we made."

...

Dozens of vessels that were being used to combat the oil spill were tied to docks Tuesday as Alex, more than 500 miles away, approached the Texas-Mexico coast. Most days, the fleet would have been skimming oil from the Gulf and ferrying workers and supplies. But the hurricane turned many people fighting the 11-week-old spill into spectators. And they will be for days.

Well whatever we do let's make sure we leave the oil out there until we can Batman ourselves up a miracle machine together that will do better than 99% purity. We really need to hold out for the EPA's 99.9985% standard, even if it kills us.

There are millions of gallons of oil in the Gulf right there that didn't need to be. They are just there because of bureaucratic stupidity, and Obama's utter lack of interest in the issue.


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posted by Ace at 11:14 AM

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