Sunday, August 1, 2010

The episode where Frank Beckmann assures us the Kalamazoo oil spill is no big deal, and that we shouldn't be mean to Enbridge Energy because they have people helping clean it up.

Oil trapped against a boom on the Kalamazoo River Friday
So by now you probably know that Enbridge Energy Partners had a little malfunction with one of their oil pipelines, one that federal regulators repeatedly warned the company about. Something like 1 million gallons of crude was dumped into the Kalamazoo River system where it has coated banks, choked off wetlands and disrupted the lives and economies in numerous local communities.

I was down there Friday checking it out, and it’s a God awful disaster. Yes, disaster. Even though WJR’s Frank Beckmann has declared it much ado about nothing primarily because no one has died. Frank says we shouldn’t condemn Enbridge because they have workers cleaning it up, and that government red tape is to blame for the problem. Frank, on his radio show, also beat up on the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment because they didn’t have enough respirators to go around to their people doing sampling. Of course, it was the right wing cavalry in the legislature that has stripped the agency of nearly 75 percent of its general fund money in the past decade, vilified it as a job-killing band of regulatory thugs and even tried to eliminate the division within the agency that responded to the oil spill! And we wonder why they don’t have an adequate equipment budget?

(There was a time when Frank had a mind of his own and wasn’t afraid to use it, but he’s increasingly is content to only parrot Rush Limbaugh these days.)

Since the whole media world is covering the spill, I’m content point out that there is a plethora of excellent coverage happening, most notably at my alma mater the Detroit Free Press where Todd Spangler and Jennifer Dixon did an excellent job Sunday of explaining the regulatory environment that lets the Enbridges of the world take calculated risks with the world’s greatest freshwater ecosystem. (An exception is the Freep’s web headline last night, cheerily pointing out that half the 1 million gallons has been collected, but failing to note that each remaining gallon gets tougher as it settles into wetlands, smothering bacteria and plankton and choking off the entire bottom of the food chain).

The Environmental Protection Agency is taking the lead on the response to the spill.
(EPA, another band of job-killing thugs except when, well….when it become apparent maybe polluters shouldn't actually be allowed to regulate themselves)

Meanwhile, the National Wildlife Federation has released a report noting that Michigan ranks 9th highest in oil spills in recent years.

The next time Frank Beckmann decides to declare a disaster zone a non-disaster, I suggest he do a show from the region where can talk to the people I did -- the lifelong hunter and fisherman near tears at the despoiling of his cherished river valley; the campground owner forced to simply shut down her business at the peak of summer season; or the golf course superintendent told not to use his sprinkler system that draws directly from the river lest the fairways get coated with oil.

These are the people who will still be dealing with this spill in six weeks, six months and six year -- long after the TV cameras and most of the politicians have moved on. 


  1. Dear Mr. Mcdiarmid,

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    We would greatly appreciate it if you would fill out a short questionnaire. It won't take longer than 10 minutes and it will help us plan for future training programs for environmental journalists. Each person who sends in this survey will be eligible for a drawing in which he or she may receive a scholarship to attend a future workshop.

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    Jim Detjen and Dave Poulson

  2. Oil Spill Eater II

    U. S. Department
    of Homeland Security
    United States
    Coast Guard

    Commanding Officer 1 Chelsea Street
    U. S. Coast Guard New London, CT 06320
    Research and Development Center Staff Symbol: Contracting Office
    Phone: (860) 271-2807

    July 10, 2010

    OSEI Corporation
    P.O. Box 515429
    Dallas, TX 75251

    Attn: Steven Pedigo, President/Owner


    We are pleased to inform you that the initial screening of your White Paper submitted under Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) HSCG32-10-R-R00019 has been completed. It has been determined that your White Paper submission has a potential for benefit to the spill response effort.

    Your White Paper has been forwarded to the Deepwater Horizon Response Federal On-Scene Coordinator (FOSC) for further action under its authority. Subject to the constraints and needs of the ongoing oil spill response, you may be contacted by the FOSC or the responsible party.

    We appreciate your interest in supporting the Deepwater Horizon Response effort.

    Contracting Officer /s/
    USCG R&D Center