What if oil comes here? | June 5, story
Pinellas needs to be more prepared
The plan that exists for Pinellas County in the event the gulf oil spill reaches us is woefully inadequate for several reasons.
It does not address the fact, as has already been discovered by our northern Florida counties, that the BP and Coast Guard plan will not provide appropriate resources for adequate and well-monitored cleanup and wildlife considerations. I've been speaking with some commissioners as well as some county staff. In those conversations I've suggested that we form a task force consisting of the Southwest Florida Water Management District, Tampa Bay Estuary Program, county emergency management and parks managers, scientists from USF and Florida's Fish and Wildlife Research Institute and representatives of respected conservation groups (like the shorebird, turtle and manatee groups).
We'd look at maps, identify critical areas, figure out strategies to protect them, acquire appropriate technologies and form a base of well-schooled volunteers. We would also look to link with neighboring counties for a more comprehensive strategy for oil capture and wildlife response.
This task force must be instituted right now. Several counties in the north are already doing this because they have learned the hard way. It's simply irresponsible not to have our own plan. Pinellas County, you are not ready for oil impact.
Lorraine Margeson, St. Petersburg
An old, familiar story | June 15, letter
Oil industry's real interests
The writer of the letter points up our collective stupidity in allowing oil companies to assume responsibility and control for preventing or, failing that, minimizing the damage caused by oil spills.
The fact that a nearly identical disaster occurred in 1979 off the Gulf Coast of Mexico — and was fought with identical technology with the same lack of success that all of BP's efforts to date have had — shows that there has been absolutely no advancement in the art (it can hardly be called a science) in at least 31 years! I suspect that most of the methodology used to fight the Ixtoc spill was old even in that era.
It should not come as a surprise, then, that the only advancement to the state of the art has been to increase the rate of drilling oil wells. I infer this from the fact that the time to drill the relief wells to enable the plugging of the original well has been reduced from nine months to possibly four to five months. That is, if you believe BP's "promises."
From this it is easy to see where BP — and by extension, the oil industry as a whole — has invested its minuscule research and development budget.
Tom Porter, Clearwater
"We will make BP pay," Obama says | June 16
I've often noticed that the GOP is quick to criticize and doesn't hesitate to cut the Democratic Party down to the quick. Even though President Barack Obama took the diplomatic approach, by being open to ideas from either party, Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele was quick to say that Obama was manipulating the BP oil spill for selfish political gain and wasn't showing enough action.
In the meantime, though, I haven't heard any suggestions from the bellicose peanut gallery. All things considered, I'd like to know what Steele would do differently to remedy this national disaster. Let him speak now or forever hold his peace.
JoAnn Lee Frank, Clearwater
Why is all the responsibility for the oil being released in the gulf being put on BP? What about Halliburton? Halliburton put the castings around the bore hole in the sea bed. The cementing of the castings is critical to sealing the bore hole up. Halliburton was to inject the cement to seal the casing in the bore hole to make any seepage of gas and oil impossible and to insert the cement plug that would have allowed BP to return at a later date to begin production.
Last August, Halliburton was involved in the cementing of a well in the Timor Sea off the coast of Australia that similarly blew out, sending thousands of gallons into the ocean. Halliburton is a "for-profit" business. Remember Iraq?
Jim Katona, Tampa
Aim at Cheney
The gulf oil spill is breaking my heart, and I want to blame somebody. I would love to blame BP, and they deserve some blame, but Exxon, Shell, etc., have all played by the same rules perpetrated by the deep-well oil regulators. I can't blame President Barack Obama because he had nothing to do with the lack of regulation of these wells. I guess he can be blamed for not emoting or putting the blame where it belongs. But these oil companies are playing by the rules mapped out at oil company meetings with Vice President Dick Cheney and his merry band of moneymakers.
It is their deregulation and the stripping of safety codes that are to blame. This group is also to blame for the lack of technologies necessary to clean up the spill expeditiously. Their attitude was simply "anything that gets in the way of profit is the enemy."
I supported Cheney's efforts during the presidency of the first Bush. Three months ago he was all over television complaining of President Obama's every move. Where is he now? He must answer for his leadership of big oil's lack of regulation and safety standards which could have prevented the disaster in the gulf.
Robert Clifford, Tarpon Springs
Other motives for BP?
After reading the daily articles and comments on our gulf oil spill, I find it has never been questioned what would happen if BP plugged the well and stopped the complete flow.
Would the well become "inactive" and not be brought into activation because of President Barack Obama's new well-drilling restrictions? Is this why BP hasn't killed the well?
I believe this question needs to be answered so the public could really see if BP's continuing efforts are just a time-killer until they have their relief wells activated.
I know BP has invested billions of dollars in developing this well and would stand to lose a great deal, however we need to look at the damages to our gulf and all the money that is being lost by the gulf residents. We should come first.
Bill Crumley, Clearwater
Clearwater couple says BP ruined house June 12
I am a Realtor. I was taken aback by the couple that has filed a lawsuit about their home losing value because of the oil spill. At this time this is surely a frivolous lawsuit as we have no oil here yet.
If such a horrific thing happens then anyone with a home currently on the market for sale will have grounds for a lawsuit, especially those with any water frontage. This couple seems to be jumping the gun and may be doing a Wall Street thing of betting on a negative outcome for greed. I hope a judge will see through this thoughtless behavior.
If our homes for sale are jeopardized by this tragic event, then let the lawsuits begin.
Penny Flaherty, St. Petersburg
How much do we care?
I find it amazing that Americans are upset over the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Actually, I believe we are a bunch of whining hypocrites! Why do I say this? Have you looked at the trash on the sides of the roads lately? Did you know that Americans dump 200 million pounds of cigarette butts on the ground every year? We throw trash out of our car windows, off our boats, and many idiotic "fishermen" leave their discarded fishing line and hooks along our shorelines for birds and turtles to get messed up in.
And we complain about the oil spill? I think we need to be mindful of how destructive we are every day to our ecosystem before we go and ridicule BP.
My dad used to say, "Remember, when you point a finger at someone, three other fingers are pointing back at you!"
Craig Gross, Oldsmar