Reality TV Coming Attractions: 'Plumegate'
If you loved Climategate, you will swoon over Plumegate, the upcoming trial in Federal Court in New Orleans regarding the BP oil spill! Aside from the minor squabbles that have taken place so far, we are approaching the main event, featuring the administration of 2009 Nobel Peace Prize-winner President Barack Hussein Obama, Jr. (former Vice President Al Gore is so 2007!). The prize will be determining the size of the environmental fines to be paid by BP and/or its contractors Transocean and Halliburton. The fines will be based on the amount of oil that flowed out of the well and into the environment and whether there was gross negligence involved. There promise to be all sorts of plot twists, such as a discussion on the meaning of "oil." Does "oil" include natural gas? (In a different context, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has contended that natural gas is "an alternative to fossil fuels," and therefore, it would seem, it does not fit the definition of "oil.")
When this issue last held the public eye, former Energy Czarina Carol Browner was defending the administration's "Oil Budget" to hoots of derision from even its environmental allies. Wikipedia summarizes her opinion on the subject:
The table below presents the NOAA estimates based on an estimated release of 4,900,000 barrels (780,000 m3) of oil (the category "chemically dispersed" includes dispersal at the surface and at the wellhead; "naturally dispersed" was mostly at the wellhead; "residual" is the oil remaining as surface sheen, floating tarballs, and oil washed ashore or buried in sediment). However, there is plus or minus 10% uncertainty in the total volume of the oil spill.  Two months after these numbers were released Carol Browner, director of the White House Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy, said they were "never meant to be a precise tool" and that the data "was simply not designed to explain, or capable of explaining, the fate of the oil... oil that the budget classified as dispersed, dissolved, or evaporated is not necessarily gone".
Now the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) has alleged that National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOOA) researcher Bill Lehr "lowballed" the estimates of the size of the spill. Given that the original oil budget estimated that 26% of the oil was "missing," it seems that PEER feels that there are even more barrels of oil among the "disappeared." And the public thought that "hiding the decline" was newsworthy!
Still to be heard from is BP's team of experts, who filed their own dissent with the President's Oil Spill Commission on October 21, 2010 contending that the estimate "highballed" the total spill by 20% to 50%.
So mark your calendars for the Greatest Show on TV in 2012, starting February 27! It's officially known as MDL-2179 Oil Spill by the Oil Rig "Deepwater Horizon" U.S. District Court - Eastern District of Louisiana, the Honorable Carl J. Barbier, Presiding.
Now both BP and its accusers will get their day in a United States Federal Court, under oath.
Bruce Thompson maintains a blog MachiasPrivateer.