[Coral-List] BP Oil Spill Response

Quenton Dokken qdokken at gulfmex.org
Sun May 16 12:37:06 EDT 2010

Hi Steve,

I agree with you fully.  I just finished drafting a commentary for the Gulf of Mexico Foundation website ( www.gulfmex.org ) which should be on line tomorrow (Monday May 17th), in which I address the need for scientific investigation and funding to support science, not only during the time of crisis but just as importantly in the time after the current crises and before the next crisis.  No one should be restricting science for any reason.  I understand the pressures of personal injury litigation that BP is facing.  Unfortunately, the federal government is the only entity that can make policy changes that would allow the much needed openness and transparency during catastrophic events; openness and transparency that the personal injury industry thwarts. I wonder how the Congressional testimony of o/g officials would have went if their testimony was declared off limits to court proceedings? I bet we would have seen "unprecedented" openness and transparency instead of finger pointing!  Don't get me wrong, those who are impacted deserve compensation to a level matching their losses, but that is not how the personal injury process works - the personal injury lawyers must get their cut.  I wonder just what was the true economic loss of the individual after all the Exxon Valdez suits were paid.
I trust you have noted one of my biases here.

Another bias, I don't believe it is practical to think that we can snap our fingers and the offshore oil/gas industry will go away.  In energy and chemistry the hydrocarbon products these companies produce is in everything in our lives.  Just try to touch something around you that does not have hydrocarbon energy or chemistry in it.  Certainly we should be aggressively developing alternative sources of energy, but that will not reduce our dependency on hydrocarbon chemistry. I personally think that rather than having impossible expectations, we are better served finding ways to work with industry, all industries, to reduce impacts as they deliver the products we demand. Adding national security and federal budget needs, the I don't think the offshore oil and gas industry is going away anytime soon and I will continue to work with them to find the least impactful ways of operation.   

Thanks for the comments.


Quenton Dokken, Ph.D.
Executive Director
Gulf of Mexico Foundation, Inc.
PMB 51 5403 Everhart Rd.
Corpus Christi, TX 78411

Office:  3833 South Staples Suite S214
                Corpus Christi, TX 78411

361-882-3939 o
361-882-1262 f
361-442-6064 c


-----Original Message-----
From: coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov [mailto:coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov] On Behalf Of Steve Mussman
Sent: Saturday, May 15, 2010 11:19 AM
To: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
Subject: [Coral-List] BP Oil Spill Response

Hi Quenton, 
  You continue to raise significant issues that we should all consider
more carefully. The fact that bias enters into the equation is not 
to be denied and as you mentioned, humans are all to some extent characterized
by their beliefs and values. Perhaps we should all reveal our biases more 
openly so that our perspectives, when expressed, can be more accurately assessed. 
  My own limits on objectivity result from placing a significant priority
on environmental impact. This perspective certainly can be considered a bias,
as environmentalists often seek to restrain activities like those involved
in offshore drilling. Some may react to this position by viewing it as a threat
to our economic system, but I would argue that it only seeks to create a more
balanced approach. Many believe that same economic system would be well advised
to invest more in alternative energy sources and move away from the status quo.
This, for many reasons, from concerns about the effects of climate change 
to national security issues.   
  Having said that, I am not attempting to use the current disaster to promote an 
agenda.I certainly hope that this blow out ends up being of limited scope, but
the fact that it occurred at 5,000 feet has my skeptical side on alert. 
Add to that the fact that information so critical to properly evaluating the
situation is being intentionally guarded, perhaps even suppressed.
You should understand that as a result, those that value marine ecosystems are
becoming extremely anxious. 
  If you truly view science as the cornerstone of critical thinking and a force
to keep the world honest, it must be allowed to operate without strategically 
imposed restrictions. BP CEO Tony Hayward told Britain's The Guardian newspaper,
that the spill was small in proportion to the Gulf. He was quoted as saying
"The Gulf of Mexico is a very big ocean. The amount of volume of oil and dispersant
we are putting into it is tiny in relation to the total water volume,"
   Sounds like we need a more thorough scientific analysis than that.

  BP has said repeatedly that there is no reliable way to measure the oil spill
by remotely viewing the oil blowing out at the source. But some scientists and engineers
say that there are actually many proven techniques for doing just that. 
A few experts that have seen limited images have suggested a flow rate 10 times (or more)
the “official” estimate of 5,000 barrels a day. If accurate, this could in fact 
create a disaster of unprecedented proportions.   
  All concerned parties should be advocating for allowing science to examine the issue
by promoting a policy of full transparency. It is only with access to all the facts 
that science can fulfill it’s proper role. Too often science is confounded by the organized
attempts of special interests to misinform.
I hope that these events don’t prove to be yet another example.


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