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Sunday, May 30, 2010

Louisiana - Governor Jindal and His Barrier Islands

Governor Bobby Jindal's expensive idea to build protective barrier islands off the coast of Louisiana, would provide a place where he and washed up oil could live together, after the fallout from the environmental man-made oil rig explosion and disaster are evaluated. Of course, tax payers would foot the bill for Jindal's experimental coastal barrier islands, if they are ever built.

It's difficult to believe Governor Jindal is completely innocent of British Petroleum (BP) and Halliburton's exploitation of the Marine Mineral Services (MMS) regulatory oversight of off shore oil drilling.

Politicians and regulators fell dismally short of requiring back up safety systems to be in place on Deep Water Horizon while it was running, which might have prevented the unprecedented oil contamination now being observed in real time, polluting the Gulf of Mexico.

Here is the fact: Deep Water Horizon was dug too deep - a mile down under enormous water pressure.

BP built the oil rig without sufficient back up safety systems in place to meet the physical pressure challenges caused by drilling in such deep water. I know absolutely nothing about oil rigs, but given the report of sensing alarms which sounded on the day of the oil rig explosion, coupled with the urgency executives expressed to avoid costly construction delays, it seems ridiculous to state the obvious: i.e., the regulatory oversight of this dicey off shore oil project was lax.

In short, Deep Water Horizon failed.

Building barrier islands would hardly have held back the millions of gallons of oil contaminating the Gulf of Mexico. In fact, scientists are saying the depth of the spewing plume coupled with the force by which it is coming out of the broken pipes, are causing a degradation of the oil's hydrocarbons, which are impacting the water below the surface. Oil molecules are breaking apart. In other words, we don't know how much oil is in the water because much of it is apparently degrading before it reaches the surface.

Loose hydrocarbons are not good for ecosystems. They cannot be seen or easily filtered, but they will be absorbed by plankton, which feeds fish - causing a chain reaction of unknown physical and environmental concerns.

It makes more sense for Governor Jindal to aim his anger where the problem lies, with BP and Halliburton, rather than rail on the government because the Army Corps of Engineers didn't approve his plan for building barrier islands.

Nonetheless, Louisiana may soon be able to drill all the oil that's available off it's fragile coast. After all, the environmental disaster caused by the Deep Water Horizon explosion may leave nothing of the state's coastal environment left to protect. Drilling for more oil could be all that's left to do in the Gulf.

In which case, Governor Jindal needs to be accountable for this horrific event.

He and others who overlooked the strict enforcement of oil rig regulatory processes might see an offshore island already in place - Alcatraz.

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