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Issue Home June 16, 2010 Site Home

Letters to the Editor Policy

Confederacy Of Fools

I learned the most amazing thing today (Thursday). There is a law on the books, named the Jones Act, which requires that only American built, owned and staffed ships may engage in commerce where they move from one US port to another US port. This act, passed in 1920, was for the benefit of the shipbuilders and the labor unions with a stated goal of strengthening our Merchant Marine. Our most defiled former president, George W. Bush, temporarily suspended the Jones Act during the Katrina Hurricane disaster. Currently, we are 51 days into the Deep Water Horizon drilling catastrophe which is decimating the entire Gulf coast in slow motion and not a single person in the Obama administration, from the president on down, has called for a like suspension of the Jones Act. There are scores of very high tech, very capable skimming ships available worldwide just awaiting authority to move in but they are denied permission. They have performed miracles in the Persian Gulf region, especially after the Kuwait war, but we won’t let them do it here. I have seen despicable behavior on the part of this administration but to throw the millions of US citizens of the gulf coast under the bus to protect the maritime unions is beyond the pall. And they call BP criminal. I just can’t wait until November 2 (if there is anything left).

I received an email from a friend earlier this week that included an observation from an unknown author. It is worth passing on. It goes like this: “The danger to America is not Barak Obama but a citizenry capable of entrusting a man like him with the Presidency. It will be far easier to limit and undo the follies of an Obama presidency than to restore the necessary common sense and good judgment to a depraved electorate willing to have such a man for their president. The problem is much deeper and far more serious than Mr. Obama, who is a mere symptom of what ails America. Blaming the prince of the fool should not blind anyone to the vast confederacy of fools that made him their prince. The Republic can survive a Barak Obama, who is, after all, merely a fool. It is less likely to survive a multitude of fools such as those who made him their president.” Personally, I don’t think he is a fool. I say that because I’ve been connecting the dots and deducing the goals of this man and his ilk, namely the total transformation of America (into what?). You should also. You would be shocked at the resulting picture.


Joe McCann

Elk Lake, PA

Measure Of The Beast

The relentless tragedy in the Gulf is now in its third month. Yet after all this time, the amount of oil surging from the runaway wellhead is still not known with exactitude. Even the government's latest estimate is controversial.

The day after the BP oil rig went down, the government and BP obfuscated the extent of the gusher. According to an ABC news report, “By April 23, the Coast Guard logs include[d] a new estimate that a full blowout could result in a spill of 64,000 to 110,000 barrels a day.”

But the government publicly maintained that it was only a minor spill, later changing it to 5,000 barrels per day - a figure that became a line in the sand for the government and for the oil company.

Finally, after succumbing to almost a month of political and public pressure, BP released a video of the renegade well. But the video didn't jibe with the government's estimate of 5,000 barrels. Academics analyzed the clip and calculated a volume vastly greater than the “official” estimate.

As time passed, the rift between government/BP and academia grew wider by the day.

Dr. Steven Wereley, a professor of mechanical engineering at Purdue University, has 18 years experience in measuring flow rates; he even coauthored a textbook on flow dynamics. Wereley used a computer program designed to track the speed of particles in the oil leak, subjected the results to mathematical analysis, and calculated the amount of oil between 56,000 and 84,000 barrels a day.

Dr. Timothy Crone, an associate research scientists at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, used a different but widely accepted method to calculate fluid flow. He pegged it between 43,000 to 100,000 barrels.

Dr. Eugene Chiang, a professor of astrophysics at the University California, used back-of-the-envelope calculations. His estimated the flow to be between 20,000 and 100,000 barrels.

Taking the midrange of each estimate shows a sticking similarity: 70,000, 71,500, and 60,000.

In rebuttal, BP maintained that exact measurements are impossible. But the fact that the cited estimates are broad ranges admitted as much. Further, when BP asserted that exact measurements are impossible, it used a truth in service of a lie.

For decades oceanographers have accurately measured flow rates from undersea vents called black smokers. These same instruments could easily be employed to determine the flow rate of the Gulf gusher. But BP has steadfastly refused to deploy this instrumentation. So BP is correct, “exact measurements are impossible” - “impossible,” that is, without the monitoring equipment that it refuses to deploy.

However, video clips of the gusher, plus dedicated software, coupled with men who are expert in estimating flow rates does make possible good approximations.

Why have the government and the oil giant consistently underrated the volume of crude pouring from the broken pipe? And why are recognized authorities largely ignored? And why does BP refuse to use flow-rate instruments?

Follow the money: the amount of oil discharged from the broken wellhead is directly linked to federal fines between $1,100 to $4,300 a barrel. Class-action suits and liability claims are also linked to the volume of oil.

On May 27 the government belatedly updated the 5,000-barrel estimate. It assembled a handpicked team of what it described as a group of “independent and government scientists.” Interesting. Are we to infer that “independent” scientists and “government” scientists are not both independent? That aside, officialdom now estimates the gusher to be between 12,000 and 19,000 barrels a day.

More deception.

This is the range of the lowest amount of oil. In other words, 12,000 to 19,000 barrels are the rock-bottom numbers. What, then, is the range of the highest numbers? The government report did not release these figures.

But the media reports the 12,000 to 19,000 as the bottom-to-top range. It is not; it's more like the bottom-to-bottom range.

This explains why the midrange of the government's estimate of 15,500 barrels is so far afield from the average midrange of 67,000 barrels cited in this letter by experts who are independent of BP as well as the government.

So how much oil is streaming into the Gulf? Whatever the amount, it's a given the latest government number is as deceptive as its first estimate. Which prompts another question: Why?


Bob Scroggins

New Milford, PA

Letters To The Editor MUST BE SIGNED. They MUST INCLUDE a phone number for "daytime" contact. Letters MUST BE CONFIRMED VERBALLY with the author, before printing. Letters should be as concise as possible, to keep both Readers' and Editors' interest alike. Your opinions are important to us, but you must follow these guidelines to help assure their publishing.

Thank you, Susquehanna County Transcript

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