Thursday, May 27, 2010

Oil Drilling Myths and Lies - Fact Checking the Media on Gulf Oil Spill


Myth 1. Media have reported up to 70,000 barrels of oil a day are being released into the Gulf.

An Administration task force today said the actual spill is between 12,000 and 19,000 barrels a day. An unknown percentage of the spill was natural gas escaping with the crude oil. This would reduce the oil in the Gulf.

Myth 2. Media has reported it is worst oil spill in history exceeding the Exxon Valdez accident.

According to the official government estimate, not BP, the total spill to date is between 12,000 and 19,000 barrels per day, meaning a total of 440,000 to 703,000 barrels total. At present the Top Kill procedure is underway and oil is not escaping, thus the total spill to date may remain stable.

At the highest estimate the spill ranks below the top 14 oil spills in history with the top being 11 million barrels in the Persian Gulf.

The Exxon Valdez, so often mentioned by the media, ranked 35th in world history. While the Gulf spill is larger the Exxon Valdez was 257,142 barrels. It was from a single tanker ship, the Gulf leak is from an oil field.

Myth 3. Media have reported this will be the largest environmental disaster in US history.

The Gulf oil spill contains a yet to be determined amount of natural gas, perhaps 30-40%, that reduces the contamination of the waters. In addition, the warm water and weather in the Gulf is causing up to 40% of the crude oil to evaporate. Remember the Exxon Valdez was off Alaska in much colder cold water and weather.

Myth 4. Media have reported that much of the oil will reach the Gulf coast beaches and wetlands. In fact some media reported the oil spill would hit the beaches within days of the explosion.

So far land contamination has been very small with the vast amount of oil dispersed 5-12 miles from land. Limited marsh land has been contaminated so far and most Gulf coast beaches have not been reached by oil.

Myth 5. Media have reported the chemicals being used to disperse the oil were banned by EPA.

All chemicals dispersed to date were approved by EPA. They have recommended a reduction in the amount of chemicals being used which is being implemented.

The use of chemicals to disperse oil spills has been proven to substantially reduce the amount or residue from the oil by breaking up the oil slick and allowing natural biodegradable processes (microbes) to destroy it.

Myth 6. Media have reported burning surface oil just contaminates the atmosphere.

Burning surface oil reduces the oil residue by 99% and carbon dioxide is what is dispersed.

Myth 7. The media reported the Administration said today they fired Elizabeth Birnbaum fired director of the U.S. Minerals Management Service and that eliminates the Bush people involved in cozy relationship between big oil and federal regulators.

After Obama said he was not aware of what happened to Birnbaum the Interior Secretary said she had resigned, and was not fired.

Birnbaum never worked for Bush but was appointed to the Interior Department by Bill Clinton. She had worked for various Democrat Congressional committees in natural resources before the Clinton job in 1999-2000, then worked for environmental groups before returning to the Pelosi committees in 2008.

In 2009 Obama, not Bush appointed her as director of the US Minerals Management Service. As a graduate of Harvard Law school and Brown undergraduate along with her long career working for House committees and non-profit environmental groups she was most certainly an exceptional talent and Obama person. Seems odd the White House didn't know they appointed her.

Myth 8. The absence of a single large oil pool on the surface is very bad because it means the oil is already contaminating the environment.

The absence of a large oil pool is a very good thing because it means there is less oil because of the natural gas and evaporation and that the effort to disperse the oil is working which makes it much more vulnerable to natural biodegradable processes.

Myth 9. BP was also responsible for the Exxon Valdez disaster.

Exxon was responsible for the Exxon Valdez disaster. BP owned a controlling interest in the Alaska oil industry consortium that was required to write a cleanup plan and respond to the spill two decades ago.

BP also supplied the top executive of the consortium, Alyeska Pipeline Service Co.

The consortium was blamed for having a flawed response plan but the consortium was an independent subsidiary of BP and other oil partners. BP was not blamed for the accident or clean up problems.

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