The Anxieties of X-treme Winter

It used to be  that the weather was just the weather, to be enjoyed or complained about depending on how much it affected your occupation or vacation plans.

We’ve had a long gray cold winter here in Northern California. I know, the rest of the country has been buried under blizzards, and I shouldn’t complain about the X-treme deluges and the frosty mornings out here—evidently there was a day in January when 49 states had snow cover. Only Florida escaped it that day, by a few miles (Hawaii has mountains that get snow).

Still, relative to a normal winter in the Bay Area, this one has been interminably sodden. Our coastal rains transmogrify into tons of the white stuff in the mountains. Mammoth Mountain, in the Central Sierras, claimed it had the most snow of any ski area in the world over the winter holidays, which is a clue to how much moisture we’ve had. Used to be the X-treme skiers were the crazies who shot off cliffs, jumped turns down a chute of snow that looked vertical, and lived to tell about it. This winter, even beginners can claim to be in the X-treme ranks because of snow levels under their skis.

I’m a skier myself, and I’m thrilled about the white stuff, but not as thrilled as I was forty years ago when I learned to ski. Now, I feel a vague undercurrent of anxiety about global warming and too much X-treme weather. Two weeks ago, as I was riding ski the lift at Tahoe and looking at the gi-normous amount of snow on the slope below, I had a pang of worry. It did not manage to dampen my enjoyment of the skiing, but it did give me pause.

It used to be that the weather was just the weather, to be enjoyed or complained about depending on how much it affected our occupation or vacation plans. Why we have excessive rain, heat, cold, and snow have become political and ethical questions about how we live day to day. And, as I sat there on that lift, I thought about how downhill skiing isn’t exactly a green sport, unless you already live near the mountains and are willing to haul your skis up the slope for an hour or more for the thrill of skiing down really, really fast for 5 minutes.

In the mid 1970s, I lived in Switzerland for a couple of years, and the skiers over 70 remembered how they strapped their skis on their backpacks, snow-shoed up, and skied down. They would do it two or three times a day. No way! I used to think. Backpacking in the Ansel Adams wilderness a few years ago, I took all day to climb about 1500 feet over 8 miles carrying 40 pounds. I could not have faced skiing down after that ordeal. Skis don’t weigh that much, but then again, we were hiking in August, not in February, and not over 30 feet of snow.

In the middle of my mid-winter ruminating about whether or not I should quit my favorite sport, I received the picture below from my artist friend in Houston, Rich Doty. I think it pretty well captures my anxieties about  X-treme global warming and the conflict with my love of skiing. It’s a photo of his sculpture, about ten inches long, made of copper and bass wood with a coating of Bar Top.

“Porcupop”

The World Is Rich, But It Is Not Mine

This world is rich, but it is not mine.
Where I live, hungry children are crying
I am not angry, at my own condition
I just want people to know my position.

Procol Harum, from a statement by South African Stephen Maboe

Congressman Joe Barton says he doesn’t want to live in a country in which those in authority are held accountable.

Okay, I’m paraphrasing, but I’m getting the spirit of his comments – and his beliefs – just right. He apologized to BP for the Obama Administration’s audacity and its demand that BP put $20 billion in escrow to compensate Americans devastated by the oil giant’s Gulf spill.

I’m only speaking for myself. I’m not speaking for anyone else, but I apologize,” Barton added. “I do not want to live in a county where anytime a citizen or a corporation does something that is legitimately wrong, [it is] subject to some sort of political pressure that, again, in my words, amounts to a shakedown.

Other Republicans (John Cornyn, Michele Bachmann) shared Barton’s concerns. Some tried to distance themselves. Whatever.

The point is that Barton spoke from his heart. In the worldview of Barton and his ilk, humanity divides neatly into two categories: the ruled and the rulers. It is a violation of natural law to hold rulers accountable. Surviving fish do not punish sharks for the flounder they eat.

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Evangeline, the Oil Spill and Highway 61

Evangeline, by George Rodrigue

I was 18, skinny, out of money and in New Orleans for the first time after some Appalachian adventures and a visit to Nixon’s D.C. I faked a cocky walk into a French Quarter piano bar and stayed until closing time when the brunette singer in a sequined costume gown took pity on me. We went to an all-night place to eat. She picked up the tab and sent me gently on my way, and I still don’t know who pays the angels.

I headed out of town on Tulane Avenue under a high, gray light filtered through very low sky. At the Broad Street red light a man in a rumpled coat and wrinkled trousers stood in the intersection. He swayed on unsteady legs and waved his arms as blood sprayed from his neck. A cop in his car at a gas station on my right saw the same thing I did, looked at me funny, punched his siren and flashed across the intersection. A road sign I hadn’t noticed before slapped me hard with the Dylan verse: “God said, Abraham kill me a son.” The man’s throat was cut near the end of Highway 61.

I’d had a youthful tour of the Museum of America, from John Prine’s Paradise to Washington’s Marble Presidents, from the Encounter With the Compassionate Stranger to the Diorama of Violent Death. I drove on home to Houston, where everyone said I looked gaunt.

I’m spending a lot of time in New Orleans these days. The town, still recovering from the Storm, is bracing for the economic gut punch of the Spill. If I were Pharaoh of New Orleans, I’d let the people go before the Mississippi turns to blood and frogs fill the Superdome.

Already some LeBlancs and Toussaints have escaped to HBO, not the promised land but a virtual home for a spirited, impressionistic filmsong of New Orleans, Treme. Sandra Bullock’s moved to town and adopted a motherless child, and in the French Quarter a guy in a cop costume tosses you a Saints cap and asks for a twenty-dollar food-drive donation. Hat in hand, the role reversed, you give it up for an angel not forgotten.

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Hey Great Britain, It’s About Lives, Not Politics

So, a British company all but destroys the U.S. Gulf Coast, threatening the lives and livelihoods of many and killing ocean wildlife, and the Brits are worried about their dividends? You might call it the British Callous Upper Lip.

Here’s how some Brits put it in the New York Times:

Investors in Britain were particularly furious about the suggestions that BP should not pay a dividend until it cleaned up the oil spill. BP’s dividend payment accounted for about £1 of every £8 handed out by British companies last year, according to FairPensions, a London-based charity.

“BP has many problems in the U.S.,” Justin Urquhart Stewart, co-founder of Seven Investment Management in London, said. “One of them is that it has the word British in its title.”

That’s right. We’re angrier about the word “British” than we are the oil strangling the Gulf.

Peter Hitchens, a research analyst at Panmure Gordon in London, said most analysts and investors in Britain are “more relaxed” about the future of BP than their American counterparts partly because of the geographic distance. “We don’t have all the press coverage that’s over there and we’re further away from U.S. politics,” he said. “We have a more rational view.”

This is the old Victorian imperial attitude. “Hey, our oil is choking and killing people way over there. Why should we care?” Face it, you old windbag of a country. It’s not that you don’t have the press coverage, it’s that you don’t have crude oil blackening the white cliffs of Dover.”

A Troubling Pattern in America’s Obama Story

George W. Bush lost the popular vote in 2000 and was appointed president by the conservative U.S. Supreme Court. A sanctimonious pundit class tells us it is crabby, unpatriotic and uncivil to dwell upon that bit of history. But questions of legitimacy (“does he really belong here?”) have dogged Barack Obama since he won the Iowa caucuses. Where have the “get over it” arguments gone? Long time passing.

There is an ugly pattern in coverage and conversation about Obama. The media’s immediate recourse to dubious language like “the Gulf oil spill is Obama’s Katrina” is just the most recent example.

Juxtaposed against the overt “get over it” arguments about Bush’s appointment, this presents us with some unpleasant suspicions about the national character. About Bush the media asked, “When will he succeed?” About Obama they ask, “When will he fail?” Obama’s the show that doesn’t belong on Broadway, and the critics clamor: when will the curtain come down?

Obama’s reflections at a San Francisco 2008 fundraiser about the source and symptoms of white, working class frustration would prove his undoing, we were told. Okay, then, surely the Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s “God damn America” preaching would take Obama out. A poor debate performance against Hilary Clinton? Disqualifying, said many.

Obama’s handling of the health care debate? The economy? Jobs? Too often the questions turned not on healthy, objective, rational critique, but on when this guy’s Broadway show would close. It’s not a quite a birther rant, but it’s of the same family.

Part of this is just the media’s attempted fulfillment of the clichéd American celebrity narrative: the star that rises from nowhere must crash and burn. I think unrestrained and unthinking Obama worship fed the “star” part of this storyline. I’m anti-authoritarian by nature, and I read too much history and covered politicians far too long to imagine superhero exploits from any of them, ever.

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Bars for BP

As oil continues to gush out of the wellhead more than five thousand feet below the location where the Deepwater Horizon floating drilling platform exploded April 20th, the nation is working fervently to deal with the worst oil spill in US history. There are still many unknowns about the disaster, but some important details are being revealed; BP and Transocean Ltd. drastically underestimated the risk and consequences of an oil spill on the rig, BP chose profits over safety and did not install any remotely operated shut-off switch in case of disaster, the regulatory agency responsible for oversight failed in its job and BP has a history of breaking the law by failing to file and maintain crucial safety and engineering documents. The result is that eleven workers lost their lives, four were seriously injured and the Gulf of Mexico is now experiencing a devastating disaster that will impact the region for decades if not permanently.
Although BP and its partner Transocean Ltd. were drilling offshore of one of the richest marine fisheries on the continent and the source of employment for much of the residents of the Southern US, the oil companies did not see the risk of an oil spill to be of much consequence. In a report to the Minerals Management Service that oversees offshore drilling BP stated, “unlikely that an accidental surface or subsurface oil spill would occur from the proposed activities.” This despite multiple spills and fires specifically on the Deepwater Horizon. The Coast Guard had issued citations for those spills eighteen times in the short nine years the Deepwater Horizon was in operation and the drilling rig was involved in a 2008 incident where it almost sank. Clearly BP was irresponsibly cavalier about the operation of the Deepwater Horizon and the risk of a spill.
The consequences of this spill are made much greater because the complexity of the drilling location and the fact that BP chose not to install a remotely operated shutoff valve called a backup blowout preventer. The deadman switch system BP has stated had installed on the wellhead did not function properly. Without a backup system, the wellhead is spewing oil into the Gulf at an estimated rate of between 1,000 and 100,000,000 gallons of oil a day. Although backup blowout preventers are required by most countries that allow offshore oil drilling, was not installed on the Deepwater Horizon to keep costs down and profits high.
Backup blowout preventers are not required by the US because the the Minerals Management Service (MMS) is weak and has been systematically corrupted by the oil industry it is supposed to oversee. A 2008 investigation of the MMS Denver offices revealed the oil industry was in bed with the agency, literally. The report details drug fueled sex parties with extravagant gifts and tickets to sporting events and travel. Federal employees were improperly paid by oil companies and awarded themselves government contracts for hundreds of thousands of dollars. A 2006 investigation revealed that companies like BP that drill in the Gulf of Mexico negotiated leases that allow them to avoid paying billions of dollars in royalty payments and prevented the Interior Department from auditing them. The oversight of the oil and gas industry has been corrupted through industry efforts in the same way the mining industry has weakened their regulatory agencies. The results are the same; dead workers.
But in the Deepwater Horizon disaster, there is also a massive oil spill to contend with. According to a recent former BP employee and whistleblower, the Deepwater Horizon’s explosion isn’t the only BP deep water drilling operation that has significant issues. According to the whistleblower and the early results of the resulting investigations is a pattern of misconduct and illegal activity. If substantiated, the evidence will show BP has failed to maintain safety and engineering documents that are intended to provide a document trail for the proper construction, maintenance and operation of the BP Atlantis, the Deepwater Horizon’s sister rig. The result brings into question the construction of the well as well as the operation of the well and may have something to do with the explosion, sinking and oil spill we are now facing.
From one disaster I propose we look back to another disaster to structure our response. Although there are many important lessons to be learned from the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill that still impacts Alaska, the disaster I am referring to is the January 21st, 2010 decision by the US Supreme court, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. This landmark ruling greatly expanding the definition and scope of corporate personhood effectively blurring the line between flesh and blood people and corporate entities. Since the Supreme Court has so narrowed the difference between a corporal person and a corporate person, I propose that our legal response should likewise be narrowed. If the difference between a person and a corporation is almost indiscernible, the corporate headquarters of BP, its refineries and its service stations across the country should be arrested and jailed for the deaths of the eleven workers and for the ongoing oil disaster.
The privilege of being a person in the United States comes with the responsibility of consequence when people break the law. When Major Nidal Malik Hasan was identified as the accused perpetrator in the 2009 shooting deaths of 13 people at Fort Hood Army Base, he was taken into custody where he remains awaiting trial. I see no reason to treat BP and its corporate business operations differently. Obviously the process of putting a service station, much less the hundreds of refineries and administrative building that make up corporate BP, behind bars in our already overcapacity prison system would be impossible. But why we can’t bring the bars to BP? In response to the disaster that is impacting the lives of the residents of the Gulf of Mexico as well as the lives of the families of those slain on the Deepwater Horizon, citizens should demand that their local District Attorneys arrest and take into custody the person responsible; corporate BP.
Deepwater Horizon on Fire
Deepwater Horizon on Fire

As oil continues to gush out of the wellhead more than five thousand feet below the location where the Deepwater Horizon floating drilling platform exploded April 20th, the nation is working fervently to deal with the worst oil spill in US history. There are still many unknowns about the disaster, but some important details are being revealed; BP and Transocean Ltd. drastically underestimated the risk and consequences of an oil spill on the rig, BP chose profits over safety and did not install any remotely operated shut-off switch in case of disaster, the regulatory agency responsible for oversight failed in its job and BP has a history of breaking the law by failing to file and maintain crucial safety and engineering documents. The result is that eleven workers lost their lives, four were seriously injured and the Gulf of Mexico is now experiencing a devastating disaster that will impact the region for decades if not permanently.

Although BP and its partner Transocean Ltd. were drilling offshore of one of the richest marine fisheries on the continent and the source of employment for much of the residents of the Southern US, the oil companies did not see the risk of an oil spill to be of much consequence. In a report to the Minerals Management Service that oversees offshore drilling BP stated, “unlikely that an accidental surface or subsurface oil spill would occur from the proposed activities.” This despite multiple spills and fires specifically on the Deepwater Horizon. The Coast Guard had issued citations for those spills eighteen times in the short nine years the Deepwater Horizon was in operation and the drilling rig was involved in a 2008 incident where it almost sank. Clearly BP was irresponsibly cavalier about the operation of the Deepwater Horizon and the risk of a spill.

Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill
Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

The consequences of this spill are made much greater because the complexity of the drilling location and the fact that BP chose not to install a remotely operated shutoff valve called a backup blowout preventer. The deadman switch system BP has stated had installed on the wellhead did not function properly. Without a backup system, the wellhead is spewing oil into the Gulf at an estimated rate of between 5,000 and 1,100,000 gallons of oil a day. Although backup blowout preventers are required by most countries that allow offshore oil drilling, was not installed on the Deepwater Horizon to keep costs down and profits high.

Backup blowout preventers are not required by the US because the the Minerals Management Service is weak and has been systematically corrupted by the oil industry it is supposed to oversee. A 2008 investigation of the Minerals Management Service Denver offices revealed the oil industry was in bed with the agency, literally. The report details drug fueled sex parties with extravagant gifts and tickets to sporting events and travel. Federal employees were improperly paid by oil companies and awarded themselves government contracts for hundreds of thousands of dollars. A 2006 investigation revealed that companies like BP that drill in the Gulf of Mexico negotiated leases that allow them to avoid paying billions of dollars in royalty payments and prevented the Interior Department from auditing them. The oversight of the oil and gas industry has been corrupted through industry efforts in the same way the mining industry has weakened their regulatory agencies. The results are the same; dead workers.

BP has Blood and Oil on its hands
BP has Blood and Oil on its hands

But in the Deepwater Horizon disaster, there is also a massive oil spill to contend with. According to a recent former BP employee and whistleblower, the Deepwater Horizon’s explosion isn’t the only BP deep water drilling operation that has significant issues. According to the whistleblower and the early results of the resulting investigations is a pattern of misconduct and illegal activity. If substantiated, the evidence will show BP has failed to maintain safety and engineering documents that are intended to provide a document trail for the proper construction, maintenance and operation of the BP Atlantis, the Deepwater Horizon’s sister rig. The result brings into question the construction of the well as well as the operation of the well and may have something to do with the explosion, sinking and oil spill we are now facing.

From one disaster I propose we look back to another disaster to structure our response. Although there are many important lessons to be learned from the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill that still impacts Alaska, the disaster I am referring to is the January 21st, 2010 decision by the US Supreme court, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. This landmark ruling greatly expanding the definition and scope of corporate personhood effectively blurring the line between flesh and blood people and corporate entities. Since the Supreme Court has so narrowed the difference between a corporal person and a corporate person, I propose that our legal response should likewise be narrowed. If the difference between a person and a corporation is almost indiscernible, the corporate headquarters of BP, its refineries and its service stations across the country should be arrested and jailed for the deaths of the eleven workers and for the ongoing oil disaster.

The Corporate Flag
The Corporate Flag

The privilege of being a person in the United States comes with the responsibility of consequence when people break the law. When Major Nidal Malik Hasan was identified as the accused perpetrator and the sole person in the 2009 shooting deaths of 13 people at Fort Hood Army Base, he was taken into custody where he remains awaiting trial. I see no reason to treat BP and its corporate business operations differently. Obviously the process of putting a service station, much less the hundreds of refineries and administrative building that make up the corporate person of BP behind bars in our already overtaxed prison system would be impossible. But why we can’t bring the bars to BP? I am sure that bars can easily be affixed to the doors and windows of the buildings of BP rendering them incarcerated. In response to the disaster that is impacting the lives of the residents of the Gulf of Mexico as well as the lives of the families of those slain on the Deepwater Horizon, citizens should demand that their local District Attorneys arrest and take into custody the person responsible; corporate BP.

Nobody Knows the Trouble We’ll See

We might be powerless.

The oil flowing out from the seabed in the Gulf of Mexico may be under such great pressure that we do not possess technology to stop the tragedy.  Chances are quite good we have no true sense of the dire nature of the situation.  The facts that have been ascertained, however, lead to a dark scenario.

We know that the blowout preventers did not work but we do not know why.  There are theories, though.  The Deepwater Horizon rig was floating on pontoons about 5000 feet above the floor of the Gulf.  When drillers struck an oil deposit, the bit was reported to be at about 18,000 feet, which is approximately three and a half miles beneath the platform.  Does science even know what kind of pressure can be encountered at that depth, under almost a mile of water and two and half miles of rock?

BP and Transocean, which owns the rig, has said there was a maximum working pressure of 20,000 PSI but the system was able to handle a kickback pressure from gasses of about 60,000 PSI.  The breakdown of the blowout preventers can be interpreted to mean the pressure coming up from the hole exceeded 60,000 PSI.  Generally, various mixtures of mud circulate up and down the drill pipe to act as lubricants and equalize pressures encountered at great depth, and this process was said to be working at the time of the accident.  Does this mean it’s possible, even likely, that the Deepwater Horizon encountered pressures current technology are not equipped to handle?

Although BP and Washington are trying very hard to convince the public that everything possible is being done to stem the flow of crude, there is seemingly little that might be accomplished.  5000 feet below the surface of the water with oil blasting out at tens of thousands of PSI, and wreckage from the giant rig scattered about, fixes are not easy to find.  The latest plan is for a special funnel to be placed over the spout, which will then force the flow into a pumping channel.  But how does a funnel get placed over the top of anything pushing at that kind of pressure?  Consider that story to be an unrealistic solution.

Ixtoc 1 - Spit in the Ocean
Ixtoc 1 - Spit in the Ocean

A well blowout in 1979 offers a bit of context; except the Deepwater Horizon horror show may quickly transcend what happened in the Bay of Campeche off the coast of Mexico.  The Ixtoc 1 rig blew and began to spew crude that flowed uninterrupted for nine months.  Before the well was capped, 3,000,000 barrels of crude had drifted north to Texas and the northern coast of Mexico.  The endangered Kemps-Ridley turtle, which nests along the border beaches, had to be airlifted to safety and has only begun in recent years to recover in population.

The Ixtoc disaster, however, is spit in the ocean compared to the British Petroleum apocalypse.  If estimates are correct and the current blowout is putting 200,000 gallons of crude or 5000 barrels per day into the waters of the Gulf, this sadness is doomed to increase in magnitude.  Ixtoc’s blowout was not capped until two relief wells were drilled and completed at the end of those nine months, and regardless of optimistic scenarios from the federal government or BP, relieving the pressure on the current flow is probably the only way to stop the polluting release of oil. The only way to relieve that pressure is with additional wells. No one is going to honestly say how much time is needed to drill such wells but consider the scope of environmental damage we are confronting if it requires at least as long as Ixtoc?  Nine months of 5000 barrels of crude per day ought to turn the Gulf of Mexico into a lifeless spill pond and set toxins on currents that will carry them to deadly business around the globe.

NOAA apparently believes the situation is on the verge of getting worse. A leaked memo suggests that the tangle of pipes on the ocean floor are covering and constraining two other release points. Pressure is likely to blow those loose and, according to NOAA, the gusher will increase by “orders of magnitude.” In most interpretations, that phrase means a ten-fold rise in the flow, which will replicate the Ixtoc disaster in three days.

Ixtoc 1 fire on the water
Ixtoc 1 fire on the water

And there are no guarantees relief wells are the fix. It is a complicated task to drill two wells to intercept the leaking one and then fill the pipes with mud or concrete to stop the flow.  What do we do, if that doesn’t work?  Humans cannot function at 5000 feet of ocean depth and the mitigation efforts currently are being handled by robotic remotes.  What is left to us as a solution other than an explosive device, which is often what is deployed during above ground blowouts.  Given the pressures reported and the amount of flow, we may need a bunker-buster nuke to be placed over the wellhead.  We can then begin to talk about the water pressures caused by burst at detonation and residual radiation.  Is that a better or worse situation?  Certainly, aquatic life in the Gulf of Mexico is doomed unless there is a reclusive genius to step forward and save us from our great failure.

The attorney general of Texas, Greg Abbot, informed reporters that it appears Texas will escape harm.  Abbot’s visionary powers must exceed his legal skills since there is no way to know when and even if the well will ever be capped.  In fact, if there is no plug placed in the hole, it is not inconceivable that no part of the planet’s oceans will escape harm.  According to the non-profit, non-partisan, Air and Waste Management Association, a quart of crude oil will make 150,000 gallons of water toxic to aquatic life.  BP, which has been marketing itself as an energy company “beyond petroleum,” is setting loose upon the planet what is quickly turning into humankind’s worst environmental disaster.

Tone-deaf politicians, especially from Texas, are trying to manage public fears, which is exactly what the state’s former governor attempted in 1979.  Bill Clements, who was one of the founders of SEDCO and owned the Ixtoc platform, originally described concerns as “much ado about nothing.”  As oil moved toward the pristine beaches of the Padre Island National Seashore, his advice was to “pray for a hurricane.”  I confronted Clements on his lack of concern and he stuck his finger in my chest and told me the state was not hurt.  Thirty years later the tar balls still roll in with shifts of tide and wind and oil was everywhere on the beach for years.

Anyone who thinks this tragedy is not going to result in massive kills of marine life is either blind, ignorant, or in denial.  The one scenario that we all refuse to confront is the possibility that it is beyond our capabilities to stop this undersea blast of oil.  If that is the case, the flow continues until the pressure eases, which might be years.  How much ecological injury will that cause our planet?

Nobody knows.


British Petroleum’s Hands

oil spill 2When I was a young boy growing up in Wharton County, my family would once a year drive to Matagorda Bay and buy shrimp off the boats.  We’d take them back to our family farm, clean them, eat some that night and freeze the rest.  After cleaning pounds and pounds of shrimp, your hands would smell for days no matter how many times you washed them.

There may come a day when no young boy does that with his family because of British Petroleum’s oil slick now covering so much of the Gulf of Mexico.  The Southern Shrimp Alliance says they’ve been nearly devastated by foreign competition and this disaster could put them under completely.

British Petroleum’s explosions and messes have haunted my career as a journalist.

pipelinexplosionIn 2000, I moved to the small town of Bellingham, Washington to become a radio reporter.  It was just one year after the Olympic Pipeline explosion rocked that community and killed three young boys.  They had been playing with a cigarette lighter near a creek that had been filled with 237,000 gallons of gasoline.  The mayor of Bellingham, Mark Asumundson, has called the boys heroes because the creek runs into downtown, but the boys playing with the lighter ignited the fuel before it could reach the city center.

British Petroleum took over operations of the pipeline and almost immediately began running jet fuel and gasoline through it again before there was ever any explanation as to why the fuel had leaked into the creek.  The community was changed forever but BP washed their hands of it and kept rolling right along.  It was later reported that a city crew doing excavation work in a park had scratched the pipe, leading to the leak.

In 2005, I was working at KTRH in Houston when BP’s Texas City plant exploded, killing 15 people and injuring hundreds of others. I was on the scene reporting for days afterward as to why the plant had exploded.  Despite the fact that there is heavy industry all along miles of the Texas coast, the BP Plant seems to be the one we were always reporting from because it often caught fire or exploded.  What struck me the most about it is that right across the street from the great exploding plant there are homes with play sets for children in the yards.

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