Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Do you care what it means...?

I set aside my theologist's cap a moment, to don my regionalist's cap. David Kurtz asks;
What is it with the Gulf of Mexico?
So I will answer.

The Gulf Coast is America's back 40. It's the ghetto, the slum, the sewer outfall. Nobody really knows what's going on down there, or cares, so all kinds of stories can be made up about it, and who's gonna argue?

First it was Chinese drilling rigs in the Gulf of Mexico. Off the coast of California, or the East Coast, or even Alaska? Off the Atlantic coast of Florida? Ridiculous! But off the Gulf Coast of Florida, manned by Cubans! Of course! They're bound to be there! Why, who in America pays attention to the Gulf Coast?

Hurricane Katrina caused no oil spills? Sure, why not? Except:

Hurricane Katrina's floodwaters unleashed 1 million gallons of oil from one of the massive storage tanks at Murphy Oil's nearby refinery. The spill spread over 1 square mile and stained 1,700 homes, making it one of the largest environmental spills to occur in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

But it was far from the only one.

A Houston Chronicle review of data from the National Response Center shows that the two storms caused at least 595 spills, incidents that released untold amounts of oil, natural gas and other chemicals into the air, onto land and into the water.

The quantity and cumulative magnitude of the 595 spills, which were spread across four states and struck offshore and inland, rank these two hurricanes among the worst environmental disasters in U.S. history. Some have even compared the total amount of oil released — estimated at 9 million gallons — to the tragedy of Exxon Valdez.

More than 500 specialists are working to clean up 44 oil spills ranging from several hundred gallons to nearly 4 million gallons, the U.S. Coast Guard said in an assessment that goes far beyond initial reports of just two significant spills.


The Coast Guard estimates more than 7 million gallons of oil were spilled from industrial plants, storage depots and other facilities around southeast Louisiana.

MMS Gulf of Mexico Regional Director Chris Oynes noted that “Today’s assessment of damage updates the assessment MMS released on January 19, 2006. Based on additional industry assessments, investigations, and reports, the number of pipelines damaged has risen to 457 from 183. The number of larger diameter pipelines (10 inches or greater) that were damaged has risen to 101 from 64. Thirty-two have returned to service versus the previous number of 22.” Table 1 and Table 2 list the major pipelines that were damaged.
Hell, we don't even care how Mississippi is doing. Quick, name how much reconstruction has gone on in Mississippi since Katrina. Answer: $600 million went to Gulfport. Them that's got shall get. Hurricane Katrina only hit New Orleans, after all (hint: no, it didn't. Not at all, actually.). Again, why not? It's not like it was the coast of California, or the East Coast, or even Alaska. Who cares about the Gulf Coast?

Kurtz, noted this earlier: John McCain, John Breaux, Trent Lott, all repeating the same lie. What are they thinking, he asks? They're thinking it's the Gulf Coast, America's sewer outfall. They're thinking its the "Deep South," and nobody really cares what goes on down there.

And I'm thinking they're right. The Gulf Coast is the dark underbelly of flyover country. Say what you want about it, because nobody's gonna check up on you. We eat the fish and shrimp from it, burn the oil and gas from it, buy the products from the refineries along it, and no one protests drilling in it, so why should we pay attention to it?

The other answer, of course, is lazy reporters: two of those links are to news outlets, but that "news" is now 2 years old or better. It's old! Why, you can't expect interviewers to know things like that, can you?

I'll retire to Bedlam....

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