>All Of Those Leaky Offshore Oil Wells

>Well this is just peachy. AP has discovered the Gulf of Mexico is littered with over 27,000 abandoned oil and gas wells, some dating back to the 1940s. None are being monitored to determine if they are leaking which, considering the age of some of these wells, they undoubtedly are.

I wrote about one such well three weeks ago. Taylor Energy’s Ocean Saratoga rig has been leaking 10 miles off the Louisiana coast since Hurricane Ivan hit back in 2004! (Remember when John McCain said hurricanes don’t affect offshore oil rigs? Yeah, me too.)

The Ocean Saratoga leak has been small — an estimated 14 gallons a day — but over six years it’s created a 10-mile-long oil slick captured on satellite. Worse, Taylor Energy says they’ve been working all this time to plug the leak. Okay, I’m going to call bullshit on that. Six years, people? You can’t stop a small oil leak after six years? If that’s the case, then things look pretty dim for BP’s gusher. Excuse me for saying this, but I don’t think the folks at Taylor Energy are trying very hard.

Anyway, I’m not surprised that the AP has uncovered leaky oil and gas wells going back decades. I’m not surprised that this is suddenly a news story. But I am surprised that people in the industry whose business it is to know about such things have basically kept quiet about it. I’m disturbed that the Interior Dept. has not conducted inspections, nor did it mandate that the oil industry do so. I’m tired of us ignoring things until a major disaster occurs, at which point we pass some legislation which inevitably is ignored.

I’m not surprised, but I’m very, very bothered by this:

Regulations for temporarily abandoned wells require oil companies to present plans to reuse or permanently plug such wells within a year, but the AP found that the rule is routinely circumvented, and that more than 1,000 wells have lingered in that unfinished condition for more than a decade. About three-quarters of temporarily abandoned wells have been left in that status for more than a year, and many since the 1950s and 1960s — even though sealing procedures for temporary abandonment are not as stringent as those for permanent closures.

As a forceful reminder of the potential harm, the well beneath BP’s Deepwater Horizon rig was being sealed with cement for temporary abandonment when it blew April 20, leading to one of the worst environmental disasters in the nation’s history. BP alone has abandoned about 600 wells in the Gulf, according to government data.

(Before we go any further, let me say the very first thing on the agenda for the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation & Enforcement (formerly MMS) should be an immediate and thorough assessment of all abandoned oil wells.)

There seems to be a pattern here. After the Kingston coal sludge disaster, we learned about more leaky TVA coal sludge ponds. But what was done about it?

The EPA has spent the past year assessing coal ash containment facilities. Last month they announced two options for dealing with coal ash, one regulating it as “special waste” and one treating it as “non-hazardous” which means basically keeping things exactly the way they are:

The EPA itself admits that under its weaker option, many states will not adopt strict federal guidelines and that approximately 50% of the coal ash generated in the U.S. will continue to be managed under state programs that do not require basic disposal safeguards.

I wonder which option the coal industry and electrical utilities support?

It cannot be stated often enough or loudly enough: there is a cost to our inaction and denial. We simply can no longer afford to put the needs of the energy industry above the needs of everyone and everything else. We can no longer tolerate one industry riding roughshod over everyone and everything else.

We cannot allow Big Oil and King Coal to dictate the health of the water we drink and the air we breathe, to destroy an entire fishing industry for which we have no alternative. Oil and coal are important to our economy right now, that’s a fact of life. But they are transient. Guess what: we have alternatives to oil and coal. We don’t have alternatives for clean air and water.

My message to Big Oil and Big Coal is a simple one: you’re selfish, greedy and irresponsible. Sorry guys, but you know it’s true. You’re important, but we do have alternatives. On top of which, your business depends on a finite resource. God stopped making dinosaurs a few million years ago. So if you want to keep playing on our playground, quit being bullies.

Learn to share.


Filed under Big Oil, clean coal, energy production, EPA, Gulf oil spill

10 responses to “>All Of Those Leaky Offshore Oil Wells

  1. >I was shocked and consequently depressed about the 3800 figure released a few weeks ago. This is madness. This is beyond greed…it's unadulterated insanity.I wonder what other loverly things are lurking out there that have been covered up by corporate thugs…and government lackeys.

  2. >I'm glad John McCain isn't our president. Frankly, I don't think he's smart enough. Jumping to irrational conclusions for the convenience of argument is a very bad sign.That and picking Sarah Palin.

  3. >EPA classifies milk as oil, forcing costly rules on farmersWe have to have standards, but we also have to have realistic standards, based on actual risk. Just because the EPA says it is a problem doesn't mean it really is.

  4. >EPA Proposes to Exempt Milk Containers from Oil Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure RequirementsRelease date: 01/09/2009Hmm wonder what happened?They're still working on the exemption. Don't get your panties in a wad. The law applies to farms with at least 1,320 gallons of oil-product storage, with single tanks of 55 gallons or more. A typical north country dairy farm stores a day or two's worth of milk in bulk tanks, easily meeting that threshold.[…]The prospect of regulating milk as an environmental danger brought outcries from lawmakers and farm groups, but in large enough amounts, milk can threaten aquatic wildlife. A news report in England in 2002 cited a crashed milk truck as a serious threat to a stream and lake in Staffordshire because milk was pouring into the water.Thousands of fish were at risk, environmental officials said, because milk is a "highly polluting substance" that robs oxygen from the water, an environmental official said at the time.Legislation to force the EPA to exempt milk is pending in Congress and would require the agency to do so within 30 days of the legislation's enactment. Rep. Candice Miller, R-Mich., is the main sponsor.—————–A big dairy farm operation can store thousands of gallons of milk and should have a plan in place.I know people love to bash the EPA as some kind of liberal evil but you know as well as I do as soon as there's an environmental disaster everyone's first outrcy is "where was the EPA!"So.

  5. >it isn't the milk specifically. It is the inflexible mindset that comes up with "Milk has oil! We get to regulate it the same as gasoline!" or that decides that a skimmer ship that isn't 99.985% perfect at removing oil from water is a source of pollution that must be stopped. There needs to be be some common sense involved, and a process for exemptions that doesn't take forever. Farms should not be allowed to dump milk, but they also should not be treated like petrochemical spills. Someone at the EPA should have figured out the milk thing, and done something about it before bothering the dairy farmers about it.

  6. >Where's the inflexible mindset? They've been working to exempt milk containment facilities for a year and a half. This sounds like a lot of fearmongering and whining to me. Actually no, it's politics. It's the corporate dairy lobby trying to cast EPA as a convenient punching bag to keep from being regulated.You ever been to a really big dairy farm? 10,000 gallons of spilled milk, you better believe there will be crying over it.

  7. >10,000 gallons of spilled milk is just as bad as 10,000 gallons of petrochemicals? Milkfat should never have been under the same rules as petrochemicals, and it should not take a year and a half to figure that out. That's almost as bad as taking more than a few minutes to figure out that a skimmer that is not quite perfect at removing spilled oil is still a good thing.

  8. >10,000 gallons of spilled milk is just as bad as 10,000 gallons of petrochemicals? It's apples and oranges. You're talking about completely different situations and yes, dairy farms need to have a plan in place. Just like feedlots need to have a plan for the animal waste. Ag waste is still toxic. Animal fat may be "natural" but it's still toxic. Spilled used restaurant grease shut down D.C. with a stench of "vomit."Frankly I don't know why it's taken the EPA so long to deal with this issue, it's not a story I've been following. We've been waiting two years to regulate coal sludge, which my post referenced. There's the whole legally-mandated "public comment" period and all that — I'm sure you conservatives would be mightily pissed if the EPA just went ahead and did whatever it pleased without allowing the "public" time to "comment." I've worked for government agencies and know first hand how long it takes to accomplish anything. It is slow but that's by intent, to make sure everyone has a chance to say their piece and that all sides are evaluated and all the facts and information are considered. That doesn't stop some political opportunists from whining to score a cheap political shot, though.

  9. >Apples and oranges–my point exactly. Milk is not petroleum, and while standards are necessary for ag waste, the controls and standards are very different than for petrochemicals. It should not take years to figure that out–it should never have been set up that way in the first place.

  10. >Milk is not petroleum, neither is pigshit or coal sludge. Coal sludge is something I don't think folks in your neck of the woods need to be educated about. Pigshit, we can learn about here: http://www.jdnews.com/articles/hog-79558-manure-whaley.html.Now, then, milk; here's a few bits and pieces.http://articles.sfgate.com/2009-09-20/news/17206893_1_french-farmers-milk-agriculture-ministershttp://www.thelocal.de/national/20090921-22059.htmlhttp://www.jdnews.com/articles/hog-79558-manure-whaley.htmlI'm sure that's just the tip of the udder. I agree with Sevesteen that the EPA (as well as OSHA and numerous of the alphabet soup of regulatory bodies) do some seemingly strange things. Otoh, they are generally not getting rich from their jobs–BigTeats, however, certainly is. I did not see any actions by any of the Agbiz biggies in support of the family farmer.