Deepwater Horizon Final Report Offers Takeaways, Lessons.

24 09 2011

I can’t believe it was early last year (April 20th 2010) when the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded, allowing crude oil to taint the Gulf for 87 days following the incident. Several men and women perished that day, leaving behind beloved families and children.

The final investigation has been released this week, calling to question the safety protocols blatantly neglected by the Deepwater Horizon’s owner – Transocean, BP and Halliburton.

Here are just a few of the sickening results uncovered by the  Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) and U.S. Coast Guard Joint Investigation Team (JIT):

  • The U.S. government has committed to submitting sanctions against these companies in light of the panel’s findings
  • BP violated seven regulations
  • Transocean violated three regulations
  • Halliburton’s subsidiary – Sperry Sun – violated three regulations
  • According to the panel, these companies neglected the necessary, mandated protocols to avoid “unreasonable risk to public health, life, property, aquatic life… or other uses of the ocean”

If you want to learn more about one of our nation’s worst natural disasters, I’m currently reading and would highly recommend  Drowning in Oil: BP and the Reckless Pursuit of Profit. Acclaimed Houston Chronicle journalist, Loren Steffy, recounts BP’s history and rise to its current status as a global multi-billion dollar machine; he unveils how the former CEO’s management approach led to not only the oil spill in the gulf, but several preceding warnings including a preventable burst pipeline in the Arctic and a refinery explosion in Texas City in 2005, killing 15 and injuring almost 200.

Loren discovers the main culprits to these and other negligent behavior committed by BP continue to arise because of delayed maintenance; deferred upgrades; and budget cuts.

Comparing this disaster with ethanol or biodiesel production, there will always be small accidents or mishaps when raising crops for sustainable fossil fuel alternatives – accidents happen. Fortunately, family farmers strive to uphold safety and protocol on the farm; when a small accident occurs, they maintain accountability and repair any impact within their communities.

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Just the facts – Water.

16 09 2011

As with any evolving technology, industry, idea, proposal, and alternative, the spread of misinformation can be rampant (especially from the competition, naysayers or NIMBYers). Although the advent of the 21st century communication infrastructure has spread endless information to the global community, it has also allowed for the proliferation of misrepresentation.

I wanted to use today’s post to pose some facts, statistics and truths about the renewable fuels that we grow in our very own backyard. I would also like to present legitimate sources to support these claims (i.e. not Wikipedia). Given that H20 is essential to life and everything else that we rely on to support it, it’s important to examine how we produce products, fuels and food in terms of water consumption.

Water:

According to the U.S. Geological Survey and Environmental Protection Agency, it takes only 2.7 gallons of water to produce one gallon of ethanol.

In contrast, it takes 44.07 gallons of water to refine one gallon of crude oil (or 1,851 gallons of water to refine a 42 gallon barrel of crude oil)!

Ethanol is non-toxic, water soluble and quickly biodegrades in soils, according to the Renewable Fuels Association.

And last but not least…

What I find the most disturbing is that gasoline contains benzene, a carcinogen that is found in the emissions from  burning coal and oil. In an event of an oil spill or leak, the ethanol (i.e. a 10% blend), would safely biodegrade first. The benzene, a constituent to petrol, however, would persist in the environment. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, this chemical contains a classification under Group A, human carcinogen. It has the ability to cause repoductive effects in women, leukemia, unconsciousness etc.

These agencies and associations listed have a prodigious amount of information available if you want to learn more about ethanol or other homegrown fuels’ impact on our most vital resource – water.