There is a phenomenon going on out here in the blogosphere called "good information dissemination", a trait that often distinguishes us lower paid or usually unpaid bloggers from the members of the media who routinely trumpet the thoroughness of their own work. In the progressive political oasis known as DailyKos, there are often experts who show up from time to time to fill the void for those of us who are hungry for knowledge that is specific and precise, when our rich cousins in the mainstream media start to broadcast more recycled misinformation than we can stand.
One such person, the ironically named “Fishgrease”, a self described oil and gas industry veteran for 30 years, has been giving lessons in proper booming technique and oil well production for the past few weeks after becoming enraged at the miles and miles of incorrectly laid boom that TV anchors and federal government officials can be found in front of whenever a camera is rolling. He uses language, especially in his earlier efforts, like Booming Simple Production, and Booming The News Media and Booming the Top Kill and DKos Booming School II and the one that started it all, DKos Booming School, the way people who work in industries where bad stuff happens fast and without warning often do, with a generous helping of “F-bombs” in every paragraph, but instead of being offensive, it only adds to the authenticity of his narrative. Hopefully, the recent media attention has not got him thinking “I need to clean up my act”, but even a guy who chooses the screen name “Fishgrease” is only human.
Today’s mini-course on booming techniques is titled “For Rachel”, as in Rachel Maddow, someone whose TV news commentary show I have never watched. But I understand from the comments, and from Fishgrease’s own admission, that she has decided to go against the status quo, the way journalists used to do in the movies, and follow up on why BP and the federal government have spent so much time, energy, and money laying boom that is so ineffectual it might as well be considered decoration. Which means, when I decide to turn my TV back on to get news, I might give her a shot, despite my distaste for her colleague Keith Olbermann.
With very few exceptions, most of the booming we've seen on television and on the internet since the BP Gulf of Mexico Disaster began has been containment booming. It has been what I call PR booming and it is wrong. They're using Containment Booming, meant to hold oil IN for a short period of time. But they're using it to hold oil OUT from the shore for long periods of time. This doesn't work. They're also using Absorbent Boom as containment boom. Most people call it Sorbent Boom, but I don't because it makes me think of oil-flavored sherbet. Absorbent Boom is meant to be a last line of defense in use with other booming, and for general worksite cleanup. So in these cases they're using the wrong stuff AND they're using it wrong! Rachel showed the results and those results speak for themselves. So what we've been seeing is bad boom. Listen.
Not only does this anonymous patriot share his knowledge about what has happened – he also suggests what he thinks should happen going forward to get Gulf Coast communities prepared for the next time this happens.
Okay. So we can all calm down now. No, we can't boom the entire Northern Gulf of Mexico. We don't need to. We don't need to boom 1/30th of the Northern Gulf of Mexico. But there are places we need to boom and boom right. We don't boom beach. We don't boom mud bank. There's lots and lots of places we don't boom. We take all the boom and rope and anchorage from all that PR boom and we use it where we really need it. And we use it properly, so it will work. We boom where birds commonly nest. We boom inlets to inland marshes. The example above is a no-brainer. Most decisions will not be nearly that obvious. But we make those decisions. We don't not make those decisions. We make those decisions years before we need to and we maintain a command structure and we train community teams and we do yearly drills and and we obtain and maintain the materials we need and if the Oil Industry wants to drill or produce offshore, then they pay for it all. Now. Before they do anything else, and as part of their permitting, they get this done.
No congressman, no senator, no cabinet member has suggested anything so simple and obvious in the last seven weeks. This blogger's suggestion is in many ways analogous to the volunteer fire department system in place in much of rural America, where small tax bases prohibit the formation and staffing of full-time fire departments. These volunteers don’t wait until a fire happens to get trained, or practice, or remember if their gear works. They train and certify and run skeleton crews on duty all year round, year in and year out.
Good information of practically any kind has been very hard to come by during this catastrophe. Thank you, Fishgrease, for shedding at least a little light on the situation.
And if you've read this far, and clicked on all the Fishgrease links, you have to admit—you do feel smarter.