Obama Administration Ignoring Gulf of Mexico Oil Plumes?

Via Roger Wolsey
on May 18, 2010
get elephant's newsletter

As active citizens, we need to call our leaders’ attention to these deep-water oil plumes.

One of my biggest problems with the George W. Bush administration was that they allowed policy to dictate intelligence and information instead of allowing intelligence and information to inform policy. The Bush Administrations’ rush into war with Iraq and its failure to address human-aggravated climate change are some of the most egregious examples.

Sadly, it now seems that President Obama is falling in similarly dysfunctional ways.

Apparently, the Obama Administration is knowingly turning a blind eye to the massive “plumes” of oil, which lay deep in the Gulf of Mexico and are being caused by the still on-going oil leak. Instead, the administration is focusing, literally, on the “surface level” of the slick.

This is unbearably short-sighted. We expect more from such an intelligent leader. Consider this a rallying cry for engaged citizenship. Let’s get off our butts for once and actually contact our leaders and let them know that we expect more from them.

“If the people lead, the leaders will follow.”

Here’s how to contact President Obama

and NOAA.

the original story that inspired this article.

See also:  Government to Oil Plume Discovery Team: Shut Up


About Roger Wolsey

Roger Wolsey is a free-spirited GenX-er who thinks and feels a lot about God and Jesus. He’s a progressive Christian who identifies with people who consider themselves as being “spiritual but not religious.” He came of age during the “Minneapolis sound” era and enjoyed seeing The Replacements, The Jayhawks, Husker Du, The Wallets, Trip Shakespeare, Prince, and Soul Asylum in concert—leading to strong musical influences to his theology. He earned his Masters of Divinity degree at the Iliff School of Theology in Denver, CO. Roger is an ordained pastor in the United Methodist Church and he currently serves as the director of the Wesley Foundation campus ministry at C.U. in Boulder, CO. He was married for ten years, divorced in 2005 and now co-parents a delightful 10-year old son. Roger loves live music, hosting house concerts, rock-climbing, yoga, centering prayer, trail-running with his dog Kingdom, dancing, camping, riding his motorcycle, blogging, and playing his trumpet in ska bands and music projects. He's recently written a book Kissing Fish: christianity for people who don't like christianity


21 Responses to “Obama Administration Ignoring Gulf of Mexico Oil Plumes?”

  1. Roger Wolsey says:

    I sent the following message to NOAA:

    I am deeply disappointed that NOAA has ceased researching the massive plumes of oil being leaked into the Gulf of Mexico.
    Intelligence and information should determine policy, not the other way around.

    I have written the following article and am promoting it widely. See: http://www.elephantjournal.com/2010/05/obama-igno

    Please resume the research in the depths of the Gulf.

    Thank you.

    Rev. Roger Wolsey

  2. Nathan says:

    More info please- it seems to be a great deal of conjecture. Don't get me wrong- we all need to use this moment to increase awareness and spur political action to address our energy and climate crisis, but I'm not seeing evidence that this crisis is being mismanaged.

  3. Roger Wolsey says:

    Nathan, did you click on the link called "original story"? (at the bottom of my article) It provides ample info I'd say.

  4. Gregory Miller says:

    This one I have to comment on. That article is an interesting one, and it's filled with a bunch of hypothetical issues that are likely accurate. However.

    This failure to respond and assess and even think is something that was initiated in the Bush era, beginning Fall 2002.

    We lived in DC and Alyne worked at NOAA, when a new policy said that all research results had to be approved by the political people first, and research and publication ground to a halt. Alyne had nine months of writing and research that never got published. This matters for a young academic Ph.D. looking for jobs.

    What we are looking at here is a systematic dehabilitation of the scientific research community working for the USA under the Bush administration. In particular, towards climate change.

    I have long argued that wars in Iraq and Afghanistan focused the attention of the American electorate away from the USA. I would place any disfunctionality at NOAA squarely on the plate of the previous administration that dismembered it.

    The Obama administration has been working hard to shift the focus of the American Government back to working for the American people. That they haven't accomplished that yet is no surprise.

    While it's good to have a speculative article like this inspire more investigation, I find it inflamatory and politically motivated more than good science. It focuses mostly on hypotheticals. Perhaps Huffington post should hire the boats and send them out there? Then they'd really have a story.

    NOAA and everyone involved are likely working at much more than capacity to fix this. Lets put the blame squarely where it lies, with a Bush administration that gutted regulation, hindered freedom of information and limited academic research in favor of talking points and hunches. Finally, on the shoulders of BP, who's equipment and responsibility it really is.

  5. Roger Wolsey says:

    Greg, I really appreciate your comment. I tend to agree with you about the origins of the problem lie with the previous administration. However, I am disappointed that the Obama administration appears to be continuing in some of these ways. I added a link to the article above which provides a bit more information to this current situation. see:http://seminal.firedoglake.com/diary/48816

  6. Roger Wolsey says:

    Rob Jones from NOAA responded to my message to NOAA – by merely giving me a link to this page: http://response.restoration.noaa.gov/topic_subtop

  7. Scott says:

    I did some calcs. Basically, 40,000 barrels of oil (which is a reasonable and apolitical estimate that has been agreed is the likely amount of oil coming out of the well) equates to a volume of about the size of a football field at 7 feet high. And, the well has been going now for about 3 weeks. By any measure, this is a lot of oil! However, this volume is a proverbial drop in the bucket of the Gulf of Mexico. There is no question that BP and the US Government need to get this oil stopped from flowing and make great efforts to clean it up. But, this is not total catastrophe (or worthy of this author's hyperbolic call to engaged citizenship — that is, there are better reasons to engage). Thanks.

  8. BrotherRog says:

    Scott. Thanks for responding. First, the amount of oil flowing from that leak could be well beyond the figure you gave. Surely you can agree to that possibility. Second, the amount of land affected by the earth quake in Haiti was only a tiny fraction of the area of that nation. Think about it.

  9. BrotherRog says:

    Here's another person's "apolitical" attempt at making simple calculations. His figure is 70,000 per day. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?stor

  10. Scott says:

    Thank you. To be clear, about the comparative volumes of oil spilling and the Gulf of Mexico (often when I'm trying to be hyperbolic, I use the word "Gulf" to articulate an enormous volume), the spill could be 10x the 40,000 per day estimate and we'd still be a drop in the bucket.

    I definitely hear your point about Haiti (in fact, I am glad that you brought this up) and the fact that the epicenter of damage was a small geographic area, yet caused a Biblical amount of suffering, namely the staggering amount of amputations of limbs. However, I find the two very hard to compare — the oil spill's effects will be broad and subtle and most damaging to an ecosystem of which we certainly are a part, whereas, the earthquake's effects were directly devastating to human life and property.

    The reason that I am glad that you brought up Haiti in the context of your call to citizen engagement is that I actually take moral issue with the allocation of resources to the Haiti relief effort (please let me finish before you let this repulse you). In the last year, between the Haiti and Chile earthquakes, 250,000 have died as a result. This caused an outpouring of support from the world and Americans. The Red Cross and other other very worthy non-profits and NGO's raised hundreds of millions of dollars and the US Government pledged the same. However, in the same time period, 18,000,000 (yes, 18 million) people worldwide, and mostly in Africa, died from starvation — a totally preventable cause of death and due entirely to political and economic misallocation of resources at the treaty and UN level.

    So, my point, is to clarify that there are reasons to be enraged and to absolutely engage our citizenship. But, any engagement comes with moral consequence and high opportunity cost (don't even get me started on funneling our dollars towards preventing climate change at the expense of other extremely more worthy, timely, and higher return on investment causes to curb human suffering. I'll save that for another post).

  11. BrotherRog says:

    Scott, again, a fine response. And I agree with your points. That said, it is still problematic that the Obama administration appears to be willfully ignoring and not wanting to address the new information and data about the massive plumes of oil that are deeper in the Gulf. You at least are admitting that they exist.

  12. Scott says:

    I do agree with you that Obama's lack of response is curious and notable. Perhaps he is trying to instill calm. Perhaps he's trying to avoid the political comparison to Bush's Katrina. I am glad, however, that he is not playing apologist for the oil industry and our drilling activities. Heads have rolled, hearings have begun. Big oil has to be panicking. This accident will call to engagement — to use your words — a greater analysis of our energy needs and hopefully lead to comprehensive energy policy that we so very much need.

    What do I need to do to get a thumb's up vote around here? : )

  13. BrotherRog says:

    crap. I just tried to give you a thumbs up but it didn't appear to take. come on elephriends, let's show Scott some love!
    : )

  14. BrotherRog says:

    Scott, I'd hardly call something that astronauts can see from space, a "drop in the bucket." http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/37221379/ns/technolog

  15. Scott says:

    Be careful. A drop in the bucket that only exists on the surface (i.e. oil and water don't mix) appears to occupy a lot more volume than it actually does. Average depth of the Gulf of Mexico is several miles. Oil is occupying the top couple inches of that. Get a grip!

    It seemed as though the earlier posts were more interested in an analytical perspective, which I had hoped to provide. If we want to just keep posting alarming things with nothing backing it up and saying "there, i told you so", I am not sure how productive the conversation can get and how much we can learn.

  16. Roger Wolsey says:

    Scott, we agree then that the oil spill is far more than the surface level (what can be seen). The NOAA researchers determined that far and above what is merely on the surface, there are vast plumes of oil beneath the surface some of them miles long and deep. Nothing coy here. This is serious stuff – and it matters.

  17. BrotherRog says:

    Scott, re: "oil and water don't mix." FYI, oil (among many other substances) behaves quite differently at great depths. This is a factor you might want to explore.

  18. BrotherRog says:

    Looks like the figure is closer to 95,000 barrels per day. http://www.dailykos.com/story/2010/5/19/868023/-E

  19. lighthasmass says:

    BP's liability is capped at $75 million. Obama is a corporate whore like the rest of them. Change?! What a f*&^ing bad joke. Same, same different name. At some point the Obama supporters need to step up and stop passing blame to Bush. Bush was a catastrophe, but Obama is the one who needs to act NOW. http://www.infowars.com/corexit-is-killing-the-guhttp://www.mnn.com/green-tech/research-innovation

  20. BrotherRog says:

    Here's how one (should) attains the aforementioned "simple calculations": http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/oil-spilling-gul