Chelsea Green Publishing

Chelsea Green Blog

Greenpeace blog highlights Disaster on the Horizon

Mark Floegel featured this post about Bob Cavnar’s brand new release, Disaster on the Horizon, on Friday on the blog of Greenpeace USA.

I was in Venice, Louisiana in late April and early May of this year, waiting for the first oil from the blowout of BP’s Macondo well to come ashore. Journalists from across the globe, politicians, fishermen, government bureaucrats, environmentalists, BP reps all milled about in a chaotic scrum. No one had good information. It seemed that once a rumor had passed through the crowd twice, it became accepted as fact.

I wish I’d had Bob Cavnar’s phone number then.

Mr. Cavnar is the author of Disaster on the Horizon, published this month by Chelsea Green. A 30-year veteran of the oil industry, who’s lived the industry from the oil patch to the boardroom, Mr. Cavnar writes about the BP blowout, oil technology, oil politics and energy policy in clear-eyed prose intelligible to those who only consume, rather than produce, petroleum products.

Who’s to blame? Anyone as blunt as Mr. Cavnar was not going to get into the rooms where the decisions were made, but his eye for details outsiders would miss and what he gleans from public sources point in ominous directions, such as: – Transocean, which owned and operated the Deepwater Horizon, disabled or disconnected many of the alarms and emergency shutoff switches on the rig. Had those devices remained untampered, they might have shut down the engine that exploded when it encountered gas from the well. Alarms might have saved the lives of some of the 11 crewmembers that died. (Ironically, Transocean executives were aboard the rig that night to celebrate seven years of safe operations.) – The US Coast Guard, whose marine safety mission has been supplanted by drug interdiction and homeland security, no longer had authority to oversee firefighting operations on the burning rig. No fire marshal was appointed to oversee workboats that poured water into the upper decks of the Deepwater Horizon, flooding them and likely the cause of the rig’s sinking. – The Bush/Cheney administration, which spent eight years undermining the nation’s regulatory system, putting industry hacks in charge of “monitoring” their own interests and spinning the revolving door between government and corporate America at record speeds. – The Obama administration, which took the blame for many Bush administration sins, but for its own part was too eager for the crisis to be over and the oil magically “gone,” too willing to let itself be gulled by BP, letting the oil company withhold crucial information and manipulate the technical end of the response for its own interests. – BP, which dodged and weaved from Day One, always more concerned with limiting corporate liability that with limiting the size of the spill, protecting the Gulf of Mexico environment or playing straight with the federal government and the public. Mr. Cavnar asks why the drilling of relief wells was inexplicably halted for two months, that the much lauded “static kill” probably did not kill the well and asserts BP managed to outfox the feds by getting the well closed without ever taking an accurate measurement of the flow of oil. Since fines are based on the number of barrels spilled, no measurement means BP lawyers will hold the high ground when the court battle begins. (As marine conservationist Rick Steiner might say, “Lawyers yet unborn will be litigating this case.”) I don’t agree with everything Bob Cavnar writes. Let’s not get crazy; he’s an oilman and I work for Greenpeace. But if his kind of honesty were better represented in the oil industry, our nation would have had a sensible energy policy decades ago. He also doesn’t forget (as we should not) that 11 men lost their lives on April 20, sacrificed to greed and arrogance. Some of that came from their industry; some from us, with our desire for cheap fuel without wanting to think of the danger and consequences that come with it. Read the original piece at Bob Cavnar’s new book, Disaster on the Horizon, is available now.

50 Low-Cost, Low-Tech Solutions to Save the Planet

Tired of watching people spend so much time thinking up big solutions to big problems that it has a paralyzing effect on taking action? If you’re like author Courtney White, the answer is yes. That’s why in Two Percent Solutions for the Planet, he takes readers on a journey to show how low-cost, easy-to-implement solutions […] Read More..

5 Common Invasive Species and How to Manage Them

Last week, we asked authors Tao Orion and Katrina Blair to share alternative approaches to managing five different plant species commonly held to be “invasive.” St. John’s Wort, Garlic Mustard, Thistle, Oxeye Daisy, and Kudzu are often dismissed as annoyances at best and the target of aggressive eradication with harmful chemicals at worst. Orion and […] Read More..

What in the World is a Pawpaw?

Have you heard of the pawpaw? A few generations ago, most would say “yes!” You could ask just about anyone and they could tell you what this fruit looked and tasted like, and more importantly, where to find it. But today, the pawpaw remains a mystery to some and entirely unknown to others. In Pawpaw: […] Read More..

Uncovering the Many Uses for Abundant Kudzu

As Invasive Species Week comes to a close, Tao Orion, author of Beyond the War on Invasive Species, and Katrina Blair, author of The Wild Wisdom of Weeds,  share alternative approaches to understanding and managing Kudzu. Take a look through our final profile and check out any you might have missed along the way: Oxeye […] Read More..

Oxeye Daisy: A Plant for the Pollinators

As Invasive Species Week continues, Tao Orion, author of Beyond the War on Invasive Species, and Katrina Blair, author of The Wild Wisdom of Weeds, are sharing alternative approaches to managing and using plants considered to be “invasive.” Take a look through today’s profile on Oxeye Daisy and check out tips for working with Garlic […] Read More..
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