“The vast majority of the oil has been contained, it’s been burned, it’s been cleaned and that’s good news for the people of the Gulf,” she said on CBS.
Browner was backed up by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration chief Jane Lubchenco, whose office issued a five-page report which said that only 52.7 million gallons out of the approximately 172 million gallons that spewed into the water from the broken BP well remained.
Immediately, scientists from Gulf Coast states began to dispute the numbers, saying that nearly 80 percent of the oil is still under the surface in the form of dispersed droplets. Today’s Advocate lays out the scientific dispute:
Chuck Hopkinson, director of the University of Georgia’s Sea Grant program and one of the leaders of that school’s study, said only 21 percent of the oil is likely “gone” by evaporation, burning, skimming and containment.
The rest of the oil — or 2.9 million to 3.2 million barrels — is still likely in the water, Hopkinson said.
“The idea that 75 percent of the oil is gone and is of no further concern to the environment is just absolutely absurd,” Hopkinson said.
Hopkinson is joined by other scientists from all over the country in disputing the federal government’s numbers. Again, from The Advocate:
“I don’t believe the numbers in this report,” Rick Steiner, a marine conservationist who retired as a professor at the University of Alaska after 30 years — including during the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989, said.
“There’s no way to judge the veracity of the estimates they make without knowing how they came up with them. And for a scientific report, it’s only four pages long. I mean, come on.”
The question this conflicting information raises in my mind is why would the federal government want to spin a story based on inadequate science? Who does it benefit to call the Gulf cleaned up, if it is not?
Gulf fishermen, shrimpers in particular, whose season opened Monday, are wary of the government’s good news. While they may have a motive to protest the clean bill of health because of lawsuits against BP, most shrimpers I know, and I’ve interviewed quite a few over the years, have salt water in their blood. More than anything else, they have told me that shrimping is their way of life and they don’t know how they will survive if they can’t face the dawn with their motors thumping and nets dragging the green waters of the Gulf.
Their fear is that if they begin shrimping now, before they are convinced that microscopic droplets of oil bonded with the dispersant Corexit are truly gone from Gulf marine life, they will deliver contaminated shrimp to the dock, and a skeptical public will forever condemn Gulf shrimp as polluted.
The shrimpers, it seems, are more cautious than our federal agencies when it comes to our health and safety.
It’s especially perplexing since the White House has been so cautious about the drilling industry. If the administration feels the need to hold up oil exploration and drilling in the Gulf until they are satisfied that adequate safety regulations are in place, it seems logical to take the time to really understand what is going on under the waters of the Gulf of Mexico before declaring the oil gone and seafood safe to eat.
I know there is enormous pressure from business owners all along the Gulf Coast, who are suffering the worst economic disaster of their lives. That’s where the BP restitution funds come in, to replace a lost season’s worth of earnings. By declaring the Gulf nearly free of oil, the federal government seems to be undermining its own case against BP. Frankly, I don’t understand it.
MAY 24 Blogger Robert Mann posts this entry about the Baton Rouge Chamber's recent report on Louisiana's higher education system. It's critical to economic development, and yet our system is facing a "funding crisis" with no way to resolve it, the report says. The Chamber says control of tuition and fees must be returned to the higher ed governing boards.
MAY 24 Here's a NBC33 story about Tyrann Mathieu. He has signed with the Arizona Cardinals, inking a $3 million, four-year deal. He gets a signing bonus of $265K, but gets another, larger bonus if he doesn't get cut from the team for doing drugs. The deal reportedly includes mandatory tests and meetings for the player.
MAY 24 Jarvis DeBerry posts here about the redonkulus rhetoric that would have us believe NOLA is a safe city with a murder problem. Maybe the city's crime stats don't compare with its murder stats because you can't manipulate a murder, he says: a dead body's a dead body. It just doesn't make sense, he says, and his readers agree: a poll asks if they believe the city is safe, and more than 90 percent say no.
MAY 24 Jindal administration officials announced Thursday that the privatization of public health care is going to cost a lot more than they budgeted for, the Advocate reports here. "I'm so surprised," said no one. Anywhere. The cost they're projecting now is more than $1 billion - a lot more than the $626 million budgeted for it. And, it's more than it cost the state to operate those hospitals. So why are we doing this again?
MAY 24 Blogger CB Forgotston ridicules the recent PR campaign by the state GOP in the wake of a legislative auditor's request to both major parties. The GOP (apparently unaware that the Dems got the same request) started yammering about being targeted because it had "killed" a tax increase. CB finds that laughable, but it's also pretty funny that the GOP was comparing this episode to the IRS scandal (Because the President has so much to do with our state auditor. Right?).
MAY 24 Politico details some recent fund-raising efforts by Sen. David Vitter, which have raised the question of his future political plans. This time, it is a $5,000 per head "bayou weekend" that includes "Cajun cooking" and an all-caps "alligator hunt," the story reports. Funds raised go to a super PAC that can spend money to support Vitter in federal or state races, the story points out.
MAY 24 The pink building on Royal in the quarter was sold at a sheriff's sale Thursday, this Picayune story reports. An injunction that would have halted the sale wasn't enforced because the family failed to post a $150,000 bond, the story reports. So the owner of the mortgages on the building bought it, for nearly $7 million. Now the feuding family will have to negotiate with that company to get a lease on the building that has housed their business for close to 60 years.
MAY 23 This post in Louisiana Voice tells us about a bill by a Winnsboro lege that would require all public high school students to take at least one Course Choice online class in order to graduate. (What?) Blogger Tom Aswell says it's a monument to "waste and corruption," especially in light of the problems he's exposed with the program in recent weeks. Idaho had a similar program, but voters removed it by a 2-1 margin, Aswell says.
There will soon be a whole lot of shakin’ going on at Benny’s Sportshack Supplement Depot, a new concept by Opelousas native Benny Nele. Located at 2002 Johnston St., the supplement shop, smoothie bar and café, featuring hot off the press paninis and wraps, plans to open in late May.
Philip deMahy Sr., a once respected New Iberia ad exec, was sentenced May 2 to spend the next two years (he faced up to 100 years) in a state penitentiary after state and federal investigators found dozens of images depicting children engaged in lewd sexual acts on his personal computer.