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Gulf Bacteria Quickly Digested Spilled Methane

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the om-nom-nom dept.

Science 136

masterwit writes "From an AAAS news release: 'Bacteria made quick work of the methane released by the Deepwater Horizon blowout, digesting most of the gas within the four months after its release, according to a new study published online at ScienceExpress.' This study, however, did not deal with other chemicals (oil) from the disaster's fallout. A glimpse of good news from the disaster's aftermath." Reader iamrmani points out a related article suggesting that things may be looking up for BP after the Presidential Commission said blame for the disaster should be shared with service contractors and government regulators.

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Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34832060)

Hmmmm, methane !!

Shared? (2, Insightful)

Nemyst (1383049) | more than 3 years ago | (#34832062)

Yes, quite possibly. The regulators and contractors should be jailed for criminal negligence. That doesn't mean BP shouldn't be sued into oblivion, though. Let them be a lesson for all others and all that.

Too bad it doesn't even have a snowball's chance in hell of happening. Despite being called Beyond now, I'm sure the British government would file them in the "too big to fail" category.

Re:Shared? (5, Informative)

black3d (1648913) | more than 3 years ago | (#34832584)

The British government? This is a majority American-owned company. It was founded, and is still currently headquartered in Britain, but has been a mostly American company since it merged with Amoco (and really, was majority US owned by investors before that). The British government is far less affected by the success or failure of this company than the American government - so no, it's unlikely Obama or his successor will let it go under any time soon. As the fourth largest company in the world, it has revenues that make companies like General Motors look like they're trading in junk bonds.

Also, what's called "Beyond"? BP isn't. It's called BP. "Beyond Petroleum" is a marketing slogan - a tagline, if you will, indicating they're investing in more than just gasoline. Up until the Deepwater Horizon debacle, BP was considered one of the greenest petroleum companies, and had been making the most scientific advances in cleaner fuels and alternative fuels. It's received many acknowledgements and awards for this; Although of course all that work has now been nullified by the Deepwater incident, and pundits will undoubtedly view any future advances BP makes in ecological technologies as "trying to make up for Deepwater", despite their history in working to that goal.

Re:Shared? (1)

monkyyy (1901940) | more than 3 years ago | (#34832726)

why again dont we dissolve company's that screw up this badly, wouldn't the hole in the market help the economy as alot of people try to fill it, or does capitalism not work?

Re:Shared? (3, Interesting)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 3 years ago | (#34832926)

Capitalism works, except that's not really what we are dealing with when it comes to oil. We have placed the regulations so high that it's virtually impossible for anyone to enter in meaningful way. There are 5 major oil companies that touch about every gallon of oil in the US before it's used, shipped off, refined or whatever else. Of those 5, no more then 4 operate in any one state at a time.

There might be some independent operators out there who pump small quantities of oil or transport it to the refineries, but that's about it. They all got purchased by the larger companies or went under.

I'm not even sure why we would need to dissolve any company anyways. As long as they are made to pay the costs of the cleanup, the costs of lost business or reputation to areas effected, and fines associated with their failures, all should be fine. I mean dissolving the company is not going to make those who were harmed, hole again. It's not going to make sure the gulf is cleaned up. In fact, it's going to explicitly slam the costs of the cleanup into the tax payers lap when we find out 20 years from now that something really got screwed up and they aren't making any revenue to cover their costs.

Dissolving the company is probably the last thing we would want to do right now or in the next couple of decades.

Re:Shared? (1)

Cyberax (705495) | more than 3 years ago | (#34834700)

"Capitalism works, except that's not really what we are dealing with when it comes to oil. We have placed the regulations so high that it's virtually impossible for anyone to enter in meaningful way. There are 5 major oil companies that touch about every gallon of oil in the US before it's used, shipped off, refined or whatever else. Of those 5, no more then 4 operate in any one state at a time."

Come on. Suppose that you remove ALL regulations. What would happen next? Of course, nothing. Because oil mining is EXPENSIVE and there's just not a lot of it in the USA.

Re:Shared? (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 3 years ago | (#34835086)

Capitalism works

Well, sorta works. If you mean that a free market always produces economically optimal results, you're dead wrong - there are many well-known reasons why it won't, most of them related to externalities [] .

Re:Shared? (1)

thegarbz (1787294) | more than 3 years ago | (#34832980)

Dissolve into what? Break it up and sell it? Who would buy a company that requires such an incredible capital investment for small gains? Oil isn't a money making machine until you are THE oil company. The Deep Water Horizon is just one ship and it was worth $560million. It by itself also didn't drill the single well, multiple ships were needed for that. So already there's $billions of equipment needed just to put a hole in the ground and get oil out. If it was a license to print money everyone would be doing it. If you dissolve the company you'd be hard pressed finding a buyer. The economy won't simply gobble up what is left.

BP have an asset base worth more than many countries. They have product stored in oil tanks simply waiting for refining and shipping worth more than many countries. You want to dissolve the company? Go ahead and try. Some companies REALLY are too big to fail. E.g. The gulf of mexico has cost BP some $56bn so far. Yet 4th quarter revenue was .... $74bn. That $20bn escrow fund they set up? Paid for simply by not paying dividends to shareholders and selling two small assets.

Re:Shared? (2)

DeathElk (883654) | more than 3 years ago | (#34834032)

The examples you provide in your last paragraph are proof that BP should be investing far far more in the clean up effort.

Re:Shared? (2)

kevinNCSU (1531307) | more than 3 years ago | (#34834898)

why again dont we dissolve company's that screw up this badly, wouldn't the hole in the market help the economy as alot of people try to fill it, or does capitalism not work?

Capitalism in fact does "not work" (help the economy) by definition when you practice the exact opposite of capitalism as you suggest (forcefully dissolving a company by government mandate). But then that's kind of like putting your laundry in your oven and complaining that it doesn't work right at all, it just burns things!

Re:Shared? (1)

Lifyre (960576) | more than 3 years ago | (#34835236)

It works but any time you throw a rock into a pond you get ripples. Big enough rock gets you a tsunami...

Re:Shared? (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 3 years ago | (#34833086)

and pundits will undoubtedly view any future advances BP makes in ecological technologies as "trying to make up for Deepwater", despite their history in working to that goal.

I consider myself open minded, but I have a hard time thinking of a petroleum company as legitimately green. I'd be willing to believe they were the most serious about greenwashing... oh, and hey, that wiki article happens to mention BP spent 200 million on an -advertising- campaign to bill themselves as greener, winning a "Greenwash Academy Award" in the process.

I'd say it's actually naive to say that pundits will write any future "advances" from BP off as trying to make up for deepwater. I certainly hope they do. After all, they have a f***ing lot to make up for. I'd admire BP slightly if they came out and explicitly said "We're trying to make up for the damage we've done."

Re:Shared? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34833752)

I think the Texas CIty refinery explosion [] already did enough to sully their good name.

Re:Shared? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34835298)

Yeah but don't let any of that get in the way of those who like a good old nationalistic rant about how evil BP is whilst they turn a blind eye to the much larger environmental and human tragedies caused by US chemical firms in India, or US oil companies in Africa.

Honestly, it's pointless trying to argue about how sharing the blame is the right thing to many Americans, you get back simplistic arguments about how BP is the owner of the well so take responsibility, but that conveniently ignores the fact BP only owned 75% of the well, the final 25% is owned by companies like the US oil company Anadarko, and the Japanese firm Mitsui. It's like these people are just too mentally inept to cope with the concept of multiple groupings being to blame, and anything other than a single target just fries their brains. It's as ignorant as the "all muslims are terrorists" mindset that completely ignores the fact that there's ~1.3 billion muslims in the world, and I'm pretty sure most of them aren't in fact terrorists.

There are comments about how BP should be punished for the screw up to ensure it doesn't happen again, and that's fine to an extent, they should be punished for THEIR part of the screw up, but those arguing punishment should be harsh to deter it happening again whilst attacking BP and just BP seem to be missing the point that by punishing just BP harshly as they wish and ignoring all the other groups who deserve blame the message they're actually sending is "you can get away with sloppy, dangerous work, as long as you hide it from the people paying you".

The fact is ALL companies involved and the government departments involved need to be punished, but similarly a bit of reflection is also needed from the American people in terms of the fact they use ~20 billion barrels of oil a day and the next biggest consumer of oil, China, only uses ~7 bbl, despite of course China have over 4 times the population. The US' over dependence on cheap oil is just another reason why such risky drilling is done in the first place. It's also why about 3,000 of your sons and daughters were killed in Iraq too.

The simplistic mindset of "it's all BP's fault" is so utterly pathetic and ignorant that anyone spouting that idea is almost certainly incapable of objective rational thought. There's simply no objective metric whatsoever by which BP is the only entity who deserves blame for the disaster.

Perhaps one of the funniest parts about it all though, is the fact that after all the anti-British sentiment from many members of the American public all the way up to and including Obama himself, it's actually now British North Sea oil safety standards that the US Gulf oil spill report has recommended America follows: []

Re:Shared? (More then one crook) (1)

Required Snark (1702878) | more than 3 years ago | (#34832676)

So there were multiple parties at fault. So what? If one person robs a bank, is it a lessor crime then if multiple people rob a bank? In some cases more people means extra charges for conspiracy. I think that there is more then enough guilt and responsibility to go around for all the bad behavior.

As for lax government oversight, it's a red herring. (Pun intended.) When there was lax oversight of poultry farmers in the midwest and as a result people got sick from bacteria, the farmers couldn't say "You ignored our bad behavior, so we don't have to pay a fine." They go nailed anyway, it just took longer.

Following up on useless oversight MMS (Mineral Management Services). []

Federal regulators responsible for oversight of drilling in the Gulf of Mexico allowed industry officials several years ago to fill in their own inspection reports in pencil — and then turned them over to the regulators, who traced over them in pen before submitting the reports to the agency, according to an inspector general’s report to be released this week. The report said that investigators "could not discern if any fraudulent alterations were present on these forms."

Note that this is completely separate from the sex and drug scandal at the MMS that came to light in 2008: []

So how did this oversight failure happen? It was a product of the Bush administration's conscious sabotage of regulation when they were in control. They appointed "pro-business" officials who had a policy of letting business get away with everything up to and including murder. Remember that people died on that oil rig.

So far, all that has happened is that MMS people have quit or been fired. There have been lots of investigations but no one has been charged with anything.

The Obama administration seems to be serious about reinstating meaningful regulation, but now with the Republicans in control of the House that might not happen. Congressman Darrell Issa is asking businesses what government regulations they want eliminated (also known as soliciting bribes) [] . So if you like getting sick from bad food or big environmental disasters then you may be in luck.

Re:Shared? (1)

thegarbz (1787294) | more than 3 years ago | (#34832998)

BP was never called "Beyond Petroleum". That was simply their marketing slogan. BP was British Petroleum until they bought Amoco after which they became simply "BP". Also BP is as much an US company as it is a UK company. The stock holdings are equal, though a far larger number of key rich investors come from American, and the UK has a larger number of institutional investors.

Sure, it got the gas. (1)

intellitech (1912116) | more than 3 years ago | (#34832082)

But how about that oil?

Re:Sure, it got the gas. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34832234)

I donno, ever since the whole BP catastrophe I've seen articles talking about how bacteria has digested the oil and it's no longer at the bottom, and the surface oil was being eaten away quickly by bacteria and sealife... now methane.
With the radical things that are being written to somehow calm society, you'd think we could take all of our trash/waste and dump it right in the center of the gulf of mexico for it to be eaten by these miraculous bacteria.

We've tried that with poor results (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34832450)

Like this? []

Re:We've tried that with poor results (1)

monkyyy (1901940) | more than 3 years ago | (#34832748)

moral of the story, natures confusing and no one scientist can know whats going on at all levels and a group wouldnt get any where fast enough for the media hype to support them

Re:Sure, it got the gas. (3, Interesting)

icebike (68054) | more than 3 years ago | (#34832650)

Several news reports indicated that much if not most of the oil was digested by bacteria.

Some doubt this but nobody has been able to map plumes big enough to account for anywhere near the amount oil that was claimed to have been released. Not even close.

The oil was broken up into fine mist in the gulf which exposed the maximum amount of surface of each oil droplet, allowing for a rapid bloom of oil eating bacteria. In this region, (unlike some other spill zones) these bacteria are always around because there are always natural oil seeps in the gulf.

So how marine life is affected over the long term is yet to be determined. There may well be disperse clouds of oil affecting deep marine life which won't show up for several years.

Re:Sure, it got the gas. (1)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 3 years ago | (#34832334)

Different bacteria, but it does eat oil as well breaking it down into other hydrocarbons which are eaten by other bacteria and all that. It's one of those funky things that have been going on there since the giant chunk of rock slammed into us and caused the last mass-extinction.

Re:Sure, it got the gas. (1)

masterwit (1800118) | more than 3 years ago | (#34833066)

Last sentence of first article:

The study did not explore what effect microbes may have had on the oil from the spill.

But you do have a point. But it also may be speculated that methane in it's raw form is much easier to "digest" for the bacteria or than say oil. (But really I am not that quite informed here just what I have heard.)

Re:Sure, it got the gas. (1, Flamebait)

rtb61 (674572) | more than 3 years ago | (#34833208)

Reality "most of the methane released" LIE, most of the methane released that was deposited on the sea floor in close proximity to the blow out. So misleading science right of the get go, simple logic, the rig blew up because of a blow out ie, a large volume of methane gas escaped from the well head, rose to the surface caught fire and exploded.

So did amphibious bacteria consume the methane the rose from the sea floor and escape to the atmosphere, logically the majority of the methane released (as the rig would never have exploded if that were no true}, no. So misleading science created to generate an illusion of the environment cleaning the oil blow out rather than the truth of the environment being damaged for decades to come by the oil blow out.

So marketing science or better know as junk science paid for by corporation as a misleading exercise in marketing.

Re:Sure, it got the gas. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34833632)

Haters gotta hate. Ever occur to you that the weeks it took to seal it might have leaked magnitudes more than the relatively tiny amount involved in the explosion? Who to believe, a scientist or wild speculation from a random slashdotter?

Re:Sure, it got the gas. (3, Funny)

daem0n1x (748565) | more than 3 years ago | (#34834180)

I, for one, welcome our new microscopic, fart-eating overlords.

"Our" Fault? (3, Insightful)

black6host (469985) | more than 3 years ago | (#34832084)

"after the Presidential Commission said blame for the disaster should be shared with service contractors and government regulators."

I say "our" because the government represents us all, or should anyways, that's a subject for a different debate. I'm sorry, we don't share in their profits, we should not be responsible for their mistakes. In my opinion, regulation is desired in cases such as this, but not to share blame, only as an additional protective measure. Yes, we may have failed at that (don't get me going on the bullshit that went on previously with the regulators and oil industry, nor the complete lack of review of the plan should a disaster happen, haven't seen any sea lions lately down here in the Gulf area) but the responsibility for safety rests squarely on those that are conducting the drilling and reaping the profits. Well, at least they would have if they had not screwed up so royally.

Re:"Our" Fault? (5, Insightful)

tnk1 (899206) | more than 3 years ago | (#34832152)

Well, I agree with you there that the ultimate responsibility is those who stand to profit.

On the other hand, regulators do get paid to do this work. It is not really "our" fault they failed to do their job, it's the fault of the regulatory bureaucracy that we have hired to do it. Trust me, the regulators aren't starving civil servants who do it just because they are looking out for our interests. They get decent pay and very good benefits. The only part of it that is "ours" is the dime they they are getting their benefits on.

Again, not looking to deflect blame here, but if our regulators are asleep at the wheel, or worse, getting too chummy with their subjects, they need to be given a serious reprimand.

For now, we need oil and we have to have both corporations and regulators who will make sure it is obtained in the least hazardous way possible. There is surely more than enough blame to go around on this particular issue.

Re:"Our" Fault? (4, Insightful)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | more than 3 years ago | (#34832484)

Safety laws covering any particular industry typically get written by that industry itself, or rather by the large players with the biggest pull in Washington. Who else has the knowledge necessary to write that regulation, random civil servants, or the Congressmen? If you were going to have experts on every detail of every industry that the government regulates in Washington you would need couple of more Washingtons to house them all. There are no two opposing sides here, there is only one side. That's why BP will get away with hardly any punishment, and will even get most of the compensation fund that it already paid back with interest. Competition and tort laws are what make companies behave, not the government.

Re:"Our" Fault? (4, Interesting)

afidel (530433) | more than 3 years ago | (#34832162)

Well, the MMS was f'd up beyond all belief and one simple rule that the Canadians require would have made the response take weeks instead of months, require the relief well be drilled in parallel with the main bore. That simple regulation would have meant a small portable rig would have been all that was needed to finish off the kill shot. If you think that ANY company will take safety more seriously than the cost of f'ing up then I have news for you, that's not how capitalism works which is why we need strong regulations despite what crazy folks want.

Re:"Our" Fault? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34832490)

How about when the relief well is the one that blows out - you've doubled the all the risks for 2 holes to mitigate against a rare failure condition.

Re:"Our" Fault? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34832602)

FUD by someone who knows nothing of oil drilling. Leave the speculation to mineral surveying.

Re:"Our" Fault? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34833578)

Are you saying there are no risks to drilling the second hole?

Re:"Our" Fault? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34832522)

Where do you get a "small portable rig" that can drill that deep? More than half of the problem was that the well was in such deep water that they didn't have much that could reach it.

Re:"Our" Fault? (4, Insightful)

thegarbz (1787294) | more than 3 years ago | (#34833050)

Actually companies weigh this all on a risk basis. This is fundamental to every operational institution and the risk is always monetized. You can bet your bottom dollar if someone predicted that the well would blowout that millions would have been spent on a relief well being drilled as well. However the key failing is that the risk that was initially estimated was not updated based on operating conditions thanks to low level management.

You think the message that the well had fractured during drilling was fed back up to the CEO? I think it would have been filed somewhere in a log and the risk graphs not updated. You think the fact that the correct centralisers couldn't be sourced was fed back up to the CEO who does these risk calculations? In reality it was signed off by some engineer not even anywhere near as high as the plant manager.

No company in their right mind would knowingly accept the risk of the well. The problem is this occurred during normal operation. Before the well fractured the risk was low. When it fractured it was slightly higher, when maintenance was not performed on the BOP it was higher again. The risk continued to climb due to failure of maintenance of the Horizon's equipment, then again when Halliburton used a cement that even they thought wouldn't hold the well. THEN AGAIN when they pumped the drilling mud out.

None of these individual decisions would have caused a blow-out, and thus none get passed onto higher up. If you OSHA fining your plant daily, that gets reported to the top. If you have a major single safety breach that gets reported to the top. The top then make the financial and risk decisions based on this information. But if you have a long train of small things go wrong then it wouldn't ever appear on any risk graph. You can run the safest plant in the world, however at midnight an emergency shutdown valve could be playing up resulting in one entrepreneurial operator putting a cable tie around the reset switch on the valve. The defeated ESD system could then fail to act in an incident and kill everyone on site. The papers and the masses would still ultimately crucify the company for it's safety practices despite the best intentions of the CEO.

Re:"Our" Fault? (1)

afidel (530433) | more than 3 years ago | (#34833112)

BP has a corporate culture of not paying enough attention to detail or properly maintaining equipment, its squeeze every penny out this quarter (like so many short sighted businesses). Texas city wasn't some freak accident and neither was deep water horizon, they are endemic to the BP corporate culture and things weren't going to change until something expensive enough got their attention.

Re:"Our" Fault? (0, Troll)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 3 years ago | (#34834166)

Crazy folks, ha?

Crazy folks, who think that gov't should not be ever involved with any private companies in any way shape or form, helping them, working for them OR regulating them?

Sure, you can call them crazy. Or you can call them the only sane people.

You know why? Because it is the only sane position to take, that gov't should not be involved in any private enterprise at all ever.

It is the only sane position to take that gov't should not be insuring, stimulating, bailing out, giving out free money, giving out contracts, lobbying on behalf of, taxing for, subsidizing in any way, regulating for monopolies and against competition.

It is the only sane position to take, that gov't should NEVER EVER be in any insurance business.

Do you know what happened with BP (beyond the fact, that this is the company, which enjoys such intimate contact with US and UK gov'ts that in the past it even got those gov'ts to remove democratically elected gov't of Iran)? The $10,000,000 liability cap - gov't insurance, that's what happened.

10 MILLION dollars CAP on liability for BP, that's what happened. Gov't contracts, gov't stimulus, gov't subsidy, gov't not carrying about proper royalties, gov't not carrying about one thing: not to create a moral hazard.

That's right, you call people who believe that gov't shouldn't be in business doling out moral hazard insane all you want, but here is what gov't moral hazard has brought you (and this is very very very incomplete, short list in no order of any kind):
*1920 recession
*1929 recession / depression
*1980 recession
*Internet bubble, with the subsequent bail out through 1% short term interest which was part of housing bubble
*FDIC and moral hazard of banks gambling with deposits
*Freddie/Fannie moral hazard, coupled with 1% short term interest and FDIC, resulting in the housing bubble and mortgage derivative speculations
*2008 market crash with subsequent bailouts and stimulus, etc.
*The impending US bond crash, which will wipe out US economy (not world, just US) and hyper-inflationary stagnation, since USD will be printed out of existence to monetize all gov't debt, including federal, state and municipal
*Insane prices for health insurance due to gov't involvement into insurance business starting with Nixon
*High unemployment through minimum wage, SS, EI
*The destruction of US jobs market through destruction of US production capacity due to all the high costs of doing business in US, thanks to all the regulation and taxation


AFAIC, your worst enemy is sitting in your gov't, passing laws, passing regulations, taxing your income and preventing you from saving and starting your own business, printing your currency out of existence.


Surely, you will call this insane, but I call the people who look at all of the above and completely missing the point, that gov't has been usurped by politicians working with their preferred monopolies, to steal the money of everybody through printing and low short term interest and debt and trade deficit due to destruction of free market capitalism (which is in very short supply in the West) insane.

Re:"Our" Fault? (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 3 years ago | (#34835600)

It is the only sane position to take, that gov't should NEVER EVER be in any insurance business.

Keep in mind that it is commonly accepted that government should be the insurer of last resort. If government isn't playing that role, then who is? And what makes them not a government?

Re:"Our" Fault? (0)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 3 years ago | (#34835750)

Obviously gov't made a point of instilling this into the heads of the crowd, that gov't is the lender of last resort.

Clearly, from point of view of sane economics there is no such thing, and gov't is the last entity in the world that can legitimately claim this title, because gov't does not have any wealth. Gov't can print money, but the act of printing money to lend it is the worst way to deal with any crisis, this is shown by the historic events over and over, as gov't creates crisis by printing money and giving it out, like it did in the 1929 recession, and turned it into what is known as the 'Great Depression'.

Look at all hyper-inflationary situations in the world - all of them were created by governments' actions. From Weimar Republic of Germany, to Argentina and Zimbabwe, to the former USSR, and some others las century that lead to economic collapses, even Japan of 1990s, they were printing money on the advice from Bernanke (which is an insane thing to do, to listen to that person.)

People must understand that there is no such thing as lender of last resort. Gov't taking on such a role ends up destroying the economy, because gov't can only print and borrow, it can't create anything to back up all that phony wealth.

The bail outs of the financial industry 'too big to fail' in the words of gov't - this was such a step. Do not buy the rhetoric they are pushing forward right now that US economy is recovering - it is not, it is in fact dying right now. Every single new gov't job, every single new service sector job, every check paid to SS or welfare or EI, every time a bank ends up taking new reserves issued by the Fed and then buying US bonds.

Now the Fed is the 'lender of last resort' to the federal gov't of US of A. THAT is what QE2 is!

They are printing and buying US bonds in near exact amount by June 2011, as the US federal gov't needs to spend by that time. That's because nobody else is buying and people are thinking about not rolling the short term debt that US federal gov't is financed with over.


They are talking in the office, saying that if Senate blocks raising the 'debt ceiling', that would be the end of economy, because US would default. Well, that is a lie. US is not going to default on that, it only must stop spending!

But understand that the debt ceiling is only one part of this equation - that's the easy part. That's deciding that you are going to get another credit card to roll your debt from the old one, to the new one (well, similar, not exactly, but similar.)

But there IS another part of it - that's when the lenders, those who give the US its credit card, when they stop giving more of those cards to USA. You see? Then what? That would be the same thing as not raising the debt ceiling.

So in that case USA OBVIOUSLY will monetize all of its debt. The US will print as many US dollars as it takes to buy back every last US bond.

Is it clear WHAT will happen then? I hope it's clear to everybody, but it's definitely NOT clear to Bernanke, to Krugman, to anybody in the gov't (safe for Ron Paul).

There is nobody that should be lender of last resort. The banks should have been allowed to fail, but you see, the gov't doesn't want that to happen because it can't stand the fact that it is the gov't that caused this problem - all this borrowing, spending, printing, setting low interest, creating monopolies in finance and in everything else, all the regulations that pushed the capital and productive jobs out.


The last time USA had a sane president who did the right thing was in 1920, when Hardin cut the US federal gov't by 70% during the 1920 recession. There was no lender of last resort.

Many people lost the money they lent to US gov't. But you know what? USA rebound in 1 year. From 1921 to 1929 USA had this period of time known as the 'roaring twenties'. Obviously part of it was fueled by the Fed printing even more money and causing the next asset bubble in equities, which imploded in 1929. The Fed should not exit.

Central banks should not exist if only because they counterfeit money. You know, it's illegal for you to print money, but the Fed can do it. I don't see the difference because neither counterfeiting operation would add anything useful to the economy. The difference is that the Fed printing money gives the federal gov't and preferred monopolies license to spend while not producing anything. If you printed money then you'd spend, not gov't. That's all.

Re:"Our" Fault? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34834390)

Oh, will you stop with the "one simple rule that the Canadians require"? This myth started during the BP disaster and has persisted, but it's completely false. Canadian jurisdictions do not require "relief wells to be drilled in parallel with the main bore". In fact, I don't know of any jurisdiction in the world that requires that.

Two blowouts have occurred in the offshore areas of Canada in the vicinity of Sable Island, offshore Nova Scotia. They happened back in the 1980s. One of them required a relief well to be drilled to bring it fully under control but had no significant release into the environment (it was mainly a sub-surface blowout), the other did not [] (was handled on board the initial rig). Both involved natural gas wells, and therefore had minimal environmental impact. Sable Island is a very fragile, protected area. The effect from the one with the release was hardly noticeable there because of favorable winds, and the very light oil/condensate associated with the blowout quickly broke down naturally (it was ~1500 barrels). The nature of the oil and/or gas and the amount makes a big difference in terms of environmental impact. Anyway, no parallel relief wells were required to be drilled then, no parallel relief wells are required now.

What is being considered in Canada is a regulation along those lines only in the Canadian Arctic because in that location the seasonal sea ice dictates that if a blowout occurred, it might be a full season before equipment could be moved into the area to drill a relief well (i.e. another rig). And it's only one idea under consideration for dealing with the special conditions in the Arctic Ocean. Other options exist and are also being considered.

Drilling a parallel relief well wouldn't be a panacea anyway. There are risks drilling any well, and the relief well could experience a blowout too.

Not how capitalism works? (1)

drainbramage (588291) | more than 3 years ago | (#34835824)

Thanks to all these postings I now know that capitalism causes accidents.
I guess the AMAZING safety records of the non-capitalist countries should have been more obvious.
I now know that socialism = green, communism = peace.
Thank you all so very much.
Citation needed? Oh please.

Re:"Our" Fault? (1)

MichaelKristopeit400 (1972448) | more than 3 years ago | (#34832430)

we don't share in their profits

it's not about sharing the profits on the product... it's about accessibility to the product itself. are you interested in starting your own refinery? how about manufacturing alternative fuel vehicles?

would you rather be given a $5,000 check every year while being charged $10,000 more at the pump, or be given access to the amount of fuel you need for a price you can afford? how about neither?

why do you cower behind a chosen pseudonym while hypocritically invoking the word "we" as if you weren't removing yourself from society?

you're completely pathetic.

Re:"Our" Fault? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34832514)

How long have you been freezing the warts off your labia?

Re:"Our" Fault? (0)

MichaelKristopeit400 (1972448) | more than 3 years ago | (#34832768)

no warts, no labia... the only thing freezing are the flora on the land i own.

why do you cower? what are you afraid of?

you're completely pathetic.

Re:"Our" Fault? (3, Insightful)

DRJlaw (946416) | more than 3 years ago | (#34832612)

I'm sorry, we don't share in their profits, we should not be responsible for their mistakes.

Ignoring the lease fees on the area that were paid to the U.S. government, the Minerals Management Service royalties that were to be paid to the U.S. government for oil produced from that area, the income taxes derived from the revenue generated from that area... oh, and the fines to be collected by the U.S. government in addition to cleanup costs and the damage fund.

[R]egulation is desired in cases such as this, but not to share blame, only as an additional protective measure.

Compliance with government regulations is evidence that you have not been acting negligently. Not conclusively so, but still relevant to the overall determination. It could also be evidence that risks were not foreseeable by reasonable people in that field. Again, not conclusively so, since governmental regulation can lag progress in a field. I raise this primarily with regard to my next point, since I think that you could easily argue that oil production is an inherently dangerous activity (unlike ordinary cases where someone complies with government regulations, like compliance with governmental automobile design safety standards), which would negate these mitigating factors under a common law approach to tort liability.

[R]esponsibility for safety rests squarely on those that are conducting the drilling and reaping the profits.

No, to the extent that you're suggesting that it rests only on those that are conducting the drilling. Governmental authorities bear a responsibility for safety in any activity that they actively regulate or police. Failures to ensure safety are theirs as well, and they must be held accountable for those failures. Your very explicit association of blame only with financial responsibility is where you fail.

Re:"Our" Fault? (1)

AfroTrance (984230) | more than 3 years ago | (#34832698)

but the responsibility for safety rests squarely on those that are conducting the drilling and reaping the profits..

The government profits from companies exploiting resources in your country. Or at least it should be, I don't know US tax laws. But in pretty much every country, if you mine metals or drill for gas/oil, you pay the government money for the right to do so. (Separate from corporate tax, payroll tax, tariffs, goods and services tax, etc.)

Re:"Our" Fault? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34832762)

I'm sorry, we don't share in their profits

The above sentiment has been broadly recurring on /. for a while now (noticeably since the G.F.C.) but it fails to consider the fact that companies do pay tax and the public tends to benefit from the corporate tax receipts.

So yes, we do share in the profits today, and we have done so in the past. But if we let the big corporates fail then we can't collect tomorrow.

Of course we are considerate about this public tax money is received which is why we regulate companies I'm talking to you Mr. Greenspan . When these regulations fail then we share a public responsibility for company actions.

In summary: The public does share in the profits and so we share in the regulatory failure. /CH

Re:"Our" Fault? (2)

mmortal03 (607958) | more than 3 years ago | (#34832918)

If you count "our" share of their profits in the form of federal tax revenue, you'd think "we'd" be able to put it to good use and effectively regulate them... right?

Re:"Our" Fault? (1)

pinkushun (1467193) | more than 3 years ago | (#34834376)

As consumers, we create a demand.
As a government, there is a need to fulfill that demand.
As humans, we should be aware of what risks and impact our demands have on our world.
Looks like a mutated "Project Triangle" in action.
i.e. if there are degrees of culpability, we who use oil and fuel, are not 100% guilt free

No more paid reports! (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34832184)

I feel that we should start rejecting all of these reports. These are always paid and never scientifically based.

There are an incredible amount of schools and student programs who we need to really educate how to do these tests. Let's have the top 10 universities along the gulf all do their own independent studies. Make them all take their own samples, use their own methods. Then we might have at least a somewhat impartial study.

Re:No more paid reports! (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 3 years ago | (#34835114)

But ... but ... how else can those with lots of cash but no scientific leg to stand on cover up their mistakes?

"...most of the gas..." (1, Interesting)

TheDarkener (198348) | more than 3 years ago | (#34832212)

It's nice to know that ScienceExpress is 'express' enough to not bother including any real data along with their story.

Yeah, I read most of the article...of course, if I were the typical slashbot, most=whatever the slashdot summary included (along with the sassy editorial at the end, making it ever so painfully obvious the submitter wants to steer the reader's opinion of the article..I mean, Fox News anchors are better at doing that, and they're horrible!)

Re:"...most of the gas..." (1)

masterwit (1800118) | more than 3 years ago | (#34833096)

If you look on the right side there is a link to the abstract [] but unfortunately it is behind a pay wall. For the most part these ScienceExpress articles will not publish data and frankly I find this fine since the full paper was not provided. Had they provided the full paper so we as readers could engage...well either way we all hate pay walls. (try debating facts when you don't have all the facts, we know how well those

Is BP a good investment? (4, Interesting)

Lord Byron II (671689) | more than 3 years ago | (#34832254)

Before the spill, BP was trading at $60+/share. Today, they're at $45/share. I can't help but think that since they have already paid out most of the money that will have to and since they have settled most of the claims, and since the well is good and dead, that the stock price has to recover to it's previous levels. If you buy today at $45 and it recovers only to $60 in a year, then that's still a 33% return on investment, which is absolutely terrific, especially in a down economy. Any thoughts?

Re:Is BP a good investment? (-1, Troll)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | more than 3 years ago | (#34832310)

It's a good buy but only if you don't feel bad investing in an evil industry whose 1 oil rig out of 10,000 has leaked thereby covering hundreds of innocent pelicans with oil! Hope you can sleep at night.

Re:Is BP a good investment? (2)

iknowcss (937215) | more than 3 years ago | (#34832360)

My stacks of money do not make a good pillow :(

Re:Is BP a good investment? (1)

MichaelKristopeit400 (1972448) | more than 3 years ago | (#34832458)

try pelican feathers.

Re:Is BP a good investment? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34834952)

that makes my hair too oily in the mornings.

Re:Is BP a good investment? (2)

Strange Ranger (454494) | more than 3 years ago | (#34832466)

"[BP is] a good buy but only if you don't feel bad investing in an evil industry whose 1 oil rig out of 10,000 has leaked thereby covering hundreds of innocent pelicans with oil! Hope you can sleep at night.

I'm not so sure?

Which [] company [] do you think will have the safest oil drilling practices [] and possibly a larger interest in alternative energies over the next 5 or 10 years?

Re:Is BP a good investment? (2)

thegarbz (1787294) | more than 3 years ago | (#34833100)

I'll sleep just fine at night after investing in a company that is building the largest solar power plant in Australia [] , the company who continually invests lots of money in renewable energies [] . How about a company which invested $200m in clean fuels orders of magnitude better than required by local regulations? []

Oh and I don't like pelicans. Have you ever had one crap on your car? The shit stinks and is hard to get rid of.

Re:Is BP a good investment? (2)

afidel (530433) | more than 3 years ago | (#34832386)

No, because the previous stock price was a reflection of expected future value based significantly on the fact that BP was the biggest deep water driller in the world. Such drilling almost anywhere in the developed world now carries a significantly higher cost because of increased regulation and higher insurance costs (externalities are now actually incorporated in those costs) the stock is unlikely to recover to previous levels. The non-national oil companies are being sqeezed by the socialization of most of the major fields so increased costs in the available fields in the developed world is a significant change.

Re:Is BP a good investment? (1)

thegarbz (1787294) | more than 3 years ago | (#34833184)

Though if you think that deep you also need to consider the expected future value of oil as resources tighten and deep water drilling becomes vastly more attractive, as does oil shale mining. The additional rules haven't stopped any of the 13 new wells being drilled. The bulk of all US oil exists in the deep waters in the gulf. Even if the short term government makes it unattractive to drill there in the long term either pressures will reduce the additional costs and regulation, or prices will rise once again making it an attractive undertaking.

On top of that BP's current share prices is barely at asset parity cost so it's really got no where to go but up.

Re:Is BP a good investment? (4, Informative)

beaker8000 (1815376) | more than 3 years ago | (#34832468)

The 33% return you note is only capital gains (which is certainly a nice return). But I think the real sweetness is that prior to the spill BP paid an $0.84 quarterly dividend (BP was forced to stop paying it). If they reinstate the dividend at the same $0.84, BP's yield will be ($0.84*4)/$46.03 = 7.3%.

I think BP will reinstate its $0.84 dividend sometime in 2011. So if you buy now you can earn 7.3% per year (excluding capital gains) for the rest of your life. Not too bad in a world where the 30-year bond yields 4.5%.

Also keep in mind dividends are now taxed lower than interest. So on an after-tax basis (say at the 28% bracket) the difference is:

BP dividend: 7.3%*(1-0.15) = 6.21%
Treasury yield: 4.5%*(1-.28) = 3.24%

a little less than double the return.

Of course, if BP repeats itself......

Re:Is BP a good investment? (1)

Senes (928228) | more than 3 years ago | (#34832634)

I'd have to say the answer is no. If you've been following the news; BP is shown to have a history of mistakes and negligence that is much worse than what seems to be the norm for the industry. Given their past, it would stand to reason that they're at above-average risk of another big disaster at any time.

Is investing your money a good idea? Sure. Is BP stock a wise choice? It's more of a gamble really.

Re:Is BP a good investment? (1)

thegarbz (1787294) | more than 3 years ago | (#34833126)

Yet since the Texas City incident in 2005 despite repeated fines by OSHA and lackluster safety performance the share prices continued a steady rise. Have faith my man. Short term trends definitely in the upwards direction for these shares.

Re:Is BP a good investment? (1)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 3 years ago | (#34833626)

Based on the financials [] , they've had a drop in revenue, even without the special charges. I'm not sure they'll be able to make it back too easily.

If I were going to consider that more seriously, I would research to make sure that they really do have good prospects for the future (and that the industry has good prospects for the future!) I would start by looking on Google finance, look up BP stock [] , and look on the right where they have the news stories. Some of them are garbage but sometimes good analysis shows up there. It's a good place to start researching any new stock.

In short, you have what might be a good tip. I found some reasons that there may be problems with it, but really if you want to be sure you're going to have to do deeper research.

Shit (1)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 3 years ago | (#34832288)

Maybe the leftovers of that digestion should worry us

Re:Shit (1)

blueg3 (192743) | more than 3 years ago | (#34832422)

Carbon dioxide? Probably, but not nearly as much as a bunch of methane.

Re:Shit (1)

monkyyy (1901940) | more than 3 years ago | (#34832822)

couldn't that lead to an algal bloom? (or anything)
"the poisons in the dosage" not sure who said that :/ but whatever

if there is some lifeform out there that the co2 is the limiting factor (knowing natures moodyness there will be) there population could explode causing more problems
to more
to more
to more
till nature mazes hits a dead end(gulf wide change in the ecosystem) or an exit(one of the more unstable bacteria go extinct/deal with it, without passing on the burden to someone else)

Re:Shit (1)

Phil06 (877749) | more than 3 years ago | (#34832534)

I didn't know that bacteria swallowed

"did not deal with other chemicals" (3, Insightful)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 3 years ago | (#34832504)

Almost Soviet in that way.
If its not measured, it does not exist. Feds can keep most of the tame press away. University funding can be shifted. []
Long term studies and samples then become lost in the mix of "persistent but unsubstantiated reports".

Re:"did not deal with other chemicals" (1)

pavon (30274) | more than 3 years ago | (#34832772)

What are going on about? It was a single study concentrating on a single aspect of the spill. There were tons of other grants given to study the spill.

Re:"did not deal with other chemicals" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34832958)

I for one am not comforted by the notion of tons of grants. It could be just a convenient rumor. I remember scientist chased away when they were able to track underwater plumes for miles. Perhaps their grants did not have the proper strings attached.

Hmm (3, Insightful)

Psychotria (953670) | more than 3 years ago | (#34832548)

I wonder if all those dead birds, fish and stuff that have been turning up ate the bacteria or ate something that ate the bacteria :D

Re:Hmm (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 3 years ago | (#34833028)

It has begun? [] ;)

Re:Hmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34834080)

Moral of the story: Don't get between bacteria and a methane bubble.

(Don't get between a bear and a berry bush)

In absolutly unrelated news, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34832582)

a JP Morgan executive becomes Chief of Staff of the white house.

Yeah, the Astroturf has reached artistic proportions. Soon they will exhibit it in performance art showings.

Gulf Bacteria Quickly Digested, Spilled Methane. (1)

VortexCortex (1117377) | more than 3 years ago | (#34832592)

Who ate what? "Gulf Bacteria Quickly Digested, Spilled Methane." -- Yum... (poot!)

Anyhow, this isn't really surprising. I hear those Gulf Bacteria will eat anything, Even Flesh! []

Well (1)

kitsunewarlock (971818) | more than 3 years ago | (#34832646)

This makes perfect sense. Natural oil leaks occur quite often. But they are usually less concentrated and in lower volumes at any single point in time and space than an artificial oil leak such as at the gulf. But, nevertheless, nature has mechanisms in place that can deal with oil. Many of them don't work in spills of this magnitude, but many others will, over time, do more than we projected. The other problem that the article doesn't mention, however, is the ecosystem unbalance caused by the increase of the particular chemicals that creatures (usually bacteria) devour in that given area. While I'm sure the food-chain will eventually work its magic and all will be well and good again, it is a startling upset to the balance of nature when predators (fish) suddenly die out at the same time prey (the bacteria) begin to flourish.

Re:Well (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 3 years ago | (#34833016)

And since nature doesn't so much care about mechanisms to "deal with oil" as with simply finding new equilibrium - some scenarios [] can be more fun than others.

Temperature (1)

rcpitt (711863) | more than 3 years ago | (#34832724)

Of course the only major difference (in light of this finding) between the Gulf spill and the Exxon Valdez

was the temperature of the water

Hence forth, all major petroleum spills are limited to warm climates

Take that, Canada - no drilling in the Arctic!!!

Re:Temperature (1)

flyingkillerrobots (1865630) | more than 3 years ago | (#34832962)

I second that. Look at the wikipedia page on the Ixtoc I oil spill [] , under "long term effects." While the article tries to make it sound like the long term effects were utterlty disastrous, there isn't a single effect mentioned there that lasted more than 10 years.

Wholesale Beads (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34833030)

Wholesale beads [] supplier
became more and more popular in China,and the price of beads []
are lower and lower.Retailer began online shopping and start wholesale beads sourcing in China

Save the earth (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34833078)

You should all see this a a life lesson ... Fart In the tub or while swimming, save the earth!

Beads (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34833092)

A bead is a small, decorative object that is usually pierced for threading
  or stringing. Beads [] range in size from under 1 millimetre
  (0.039 in) to over 1 centimetre (0.39 in) in diameter.Beads can be made of many types of materials.
    The earliest beads were made of convenient natural materials; when found, these could be readily
    drilled and shaped.

Re:Beads (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34834084)


I for one... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34833442)

...welcome our new bacteria overlords.

mmmmm methane! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34833756)

Omnomnomnomnom --bacterial cell#146876135

Bacteria is a normal cleanup agent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34833788)

I work in the environmental field. One of the main ways to clean up gas and oil spills is by bacteria injection into the groundwater. There are a number of bacteria species that are probably having a gourmet feast in the Gulf right now. It won't be a year until 99% of that stuff is gone, just by natural biodegradation.

And seriously, compared to the spills that happen around Africa and the Middle East, the Gulf spill was minor.

Re:Bacteria is a normal cleanup agent (1)

DeathElk (883654) | more than 3 years ago | (#34834102)

Bargain deals on Astro Turf, cover those factual inconveniences quickly and cleanly. Ring now, 1800-TURF

Re:Bacteria is a normal cleanup agent (1)

Fantastic Lad (198284) | more than 3 years ago | (#34834148)

Bullshit. Are you evil, insane or just ignorant?

Ten years after the spill in 1999, the beaches appeared clean but a 2001 NOAA study of 91 area sites found that more than 50% were still contaminated with Exxon Valdez oil to nearly the same degree as during the initial spill. 2003 studies indicated that 21,000 gallons of this oil still remained in the area and up to 450 miles away. The oil is estimated to be diminishing at a rate of only 4% per year. Clean-up and natural processes have only been able to clean oil out of only the top 3 inches of sediment. []

And that doesn't take into account the pathological use of the highly toxic Corexit.


Beano? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34834014)

So what are those bacteria, Beano?

Great. We have a whole lot of bacteria (1)

smchris (464899) | more than 3 years ago | (#34834476)

"[O]xygen drops when bacteria respire methane"

What could go wrong?

Re:Great. We have a whole lot of bacteria (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34835026)

We end up with 23% instead of 25% O2 in the air?

If it ever gets that bad...

Am I the only one who doesn't trust... (1)

Rooked_One (591287) | more than 3 years ago | (#34834894)

a website called scienceexpress?

A week late (1)

kriston (7886) | more than 3 years ago | (#34835438)

You're only a week late with this old news.

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