Lawrence O'Donnell talks to EPA whistleblower Hugh Kaufman about the claims that the oil is now "disappearing" from the Gulf of Mexico. There's no way in hell that much oil just goes away. Digby's got more on this here The Good News Is The Poison:
BP seems to have ably headed off the worst of the PR disaster by keeping the worst of the oil more or less off the shoreline. The actual disaster may have been made worse by the use of toxic chemicals. So it's all good.
That's what they want us to believe anyway. We need more Hugh Kaufman's out there to counter this nonsense.
O‘DONNELL: Today is day 100 of the crisis in the Gulf of Mexico, and a whistle-blower has come forth from the Environmental Protection Agency, charging the EPA with helping BP to downplay the environmental impact of its supposed cleanup efforts. You will meet him in a moment.
But if the cleanup has been compared to letting the criminal clean up the crime scene—we begin our fourth story tonight with news about the cops.
“The Washington Post” reports that federal agents who call themselves the BP squad are investigating whether BP, Transocean, or Halliburton, even before the blowout, lied to regulators, obstructed justice, or faked the test results for their equipment—including the blowout preventer that, needless to say, failed to prevent a blowout. Specifically, sources told “The Post,” investigators are asking whether inspectors at the Minerals Management Agency went easy on the rig and why.
BP, yesterday, revealed that it is now the subject of an investigation by the SEC, Securities and Exchange Commission, into something—no word yet on exactly whether that is related to the spill.
And while Jane Lubchenco, director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, says the oil is becoming harder to find, the Natural Resources Defense Council‘s annual report on beaches found no downturn in the number of beach closures or advisories since the spill was capped. The NRDC reports that the number of beach closures and advisories this year, 2,200, is roughly 10 times more than last year. And it predicts that the impact will last for years.
And in a cable news exclusive, that whistle-blower we mentioned joins us now. EPA senior policy analyst, Hugh Kaufman, is a veteran and legend of the agency, having had a hand in Love Canal and the creation of the Superfund and helped expose the EPA cover-up of air quality at ground zero.
Mr. Kaufman, what should we know about the dispersants used in the Gulf that the EPA isn‘t telling us?
KAUFMAN: Well, first of all, the dispersants mixed with the oil and the water is extremely toxic. Sweden has done studies on this. Israel has done studies on this.
And the only real purpose of using so many dispersants with the oil was to cover up the volume of oil that was released from that well. So, that and lying about how much is coming out was a mechanism to help BP save billions of dollars in fines.
O‘DONNELL: Should they have not used dispersants at all?
KAUFMAN: That‘s correct. If they did not use dispersants, they would have been able to get most of that oil off of the surface and would not have endangered all of the fish and ecosystem underneath the water that now will be affected for decades on down the line.
I was listening to some of the, quote, “experts” who are being paid by BP at universities who are saying that the oil has disappeared. It hasn‘t disappeared. It‘s throughout thousands of square miles in the Gulf, mixed with dispersants, and because the temperatures down there are so cold, they‘re going to be around for decades.
O‘DONNELL: Now, were you and others at the EPA making this case within the system, that—arguing that we shouldn‘t be using dispersants there? And what was the response?
KAUFMAN: Well, the working level troops in research, some of the toxicologists who have experience and education, were trying to get management to pay attention to the data that EPA had and has had for decades, but to no avail. There was a political decision made to let BP take the lead as opposed to the government being proactive, as we used to be.
O‘DONNELL: Now, when you say a political decision, are you saying that that decision was made by EPA administer, Lisa Jackson, a Barack Obama appointee? Or was it made outside of the EPA?
KAUFMAN: The decision was made outside of the EPA, by political appointees. But I don‘t have the vision to see how high up that was made. My vision is limited, because I‘m in the middle of the bureaucracy.
O‘DONNELL: And what evidence is there that the dispersants are doing the kind of damage that you‘re talking about?
KAUFMAN: Well, we‘ve seen anecdotal information of mammals in the water, like dolphins, bleeding from their orifices; some of the workers who have done the spill cleanup are having the same problem. The dispersant and oil mixtures are supposed to atomize materials like oil. Well, if that gets into your system, that atomizes your cells, and that‘s why there‘s hemorrhaging.
So, there‘s anecdotal information both down there in the Gulf, similar to the anecdotal information at the Exxon Valdez case almost 20 years ago.
O‘DONNELL: What is the best scientific approach from this point forward?
KAUFMAN: Well, right now, we‘re very limited. We‘ve got hundreds of millions of gallons of oil spread out, mixed with 2 million gallons of dispersant. And so, what we have to do is accurately monitor the air and water and be very careful with the seafood. But we‘ve now poisoned thousands of square miles of the Gulf and we have to recognize that and take precautions so that we minimize the damage that we have done.
O‘DONNELL: Hugh Kaufman, senior policy analyst for the EPA—thank for your insights on this tonight.
KAUFMAN: Thank you, sir.