Jun 17, 2010

Senate Republicans ignore the pollution of CAFOS

LANSING – The Gulf oil disaster demonstrated less regulation and oversight is not a good thing. Someone better tell that to the Michigan Senate Republicans.

On Wednesday, the Senate approved resolution 158 that urges “the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to rescind rules that would require dairy farms to have oil spill prevention plans for milk storage tanks.” It passed – unfortunately, with bipartisan support – by a vote of 24-10.

Eric Barren at Michigan Liberal had a good on this a few days before Wednesday’s vote:

“The definition of oil is not "petroleum." Oils are substances that at room temperature are viscous liquids that don't mix with water. Alas, the critical, illuminating piece of science is buried under reverse Ripperisms ("Ice cream, Mandrake, childrens' ice cream?"), accusations of government run amok and the standard objection of seemingly insensitive environmental lobbyists.
Those objections, incidentally, make a good deal more sense if you highlight the -- you know -- fundamental science of the issue rather than descending into the same lousy environmental reporting that has helped slow our collective response to global warming for two decades. Instead, we get some tired old narrative about gummint bureaucrats run amok, and policy direction that pretends that calling something an oil is the same thing as calling it petroleum, which itself places policy at odds with basic science definitions.”

The sponsor of the resolution, Sen. Wayne Kuipers, R-Holland, said if the EPA does not act to rescind the rules, we should ignore the law.

Sen. Gretchen Whitmer, D-East Lansing, noted the irony of that position. Kuipers is running for Congress in the seat vacated by “Twitter” Pete Hoekstra, R-Holland.

“I find it ironic that the previous speaker says we should disregard federal law, yet he is on a mission to go there and make it,” Whitmer said. “With regard to this resolution in front of us, this is a resolution and I think it is odd timing to ask that the EPA not require prevention plans for oil spills; anyone watching C-SPAN around here?”

Whitmer said milk is a wholesome product in a child’s body but not in Michigan’s waterways. Milk can have very serious environmental consequences once released into our surface waters.

Whitmer said according the University of Wisconsin Extension Service, milk has a high biochemical oxygen demand (BOD). BOD measures the amount of oxygen consumed when organic matter, such as milk, is broken down by bacteria. In streams and lakes, bacteria would need the dissolved oxygen from 1,600 gallons of water to break down the organic matter in one pint of milk. Because it depletes oxygen, discharging milk into surface waters can upset biological communities and kill fish. The minimum tank size of 1,320 gallons would be enough to deplete the oxygen in almost 17 million gallons of water.

“Milk also has a high concentration of phosphorus, a nutrient that causes the growth of algae and aquatic plants which can deplete oxygen levels in our lakes and streams, exacerbating an existing problem with excess phosphorus in our waterways,” she said. “In today’s world, it’s especially true that it is not unreasonable to ask that emergency plans be in place in case of milk spills or the failure of bulk milk storage tanks.”

Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) have been cited for polluting rivers and streams in Michigan with runoff from manure, and these are huge factory farms. A small CAFO would have 1,000 cows that would result in, at the rate of 20 gallons a day per cow, a volume of milk reaching 20,000 gallons a day. But the largest CAFO in this state hosts 3,000. So we are talking about 60,000 gallons of milk a day.

“Now just to put this in perspective, we are not talking about a few cows and a pretty red barn with a dairy maid sitting on a stool with a little bucket milking a cow,” said Sen. Liz Brater, D-Ann Arbor. “That is not what happens on these farms these days. We have, unfortunately, in this state made it all too easy for CAFOs to operate in this state after they were expelled by the country of the Netherlands.”


Not Anonymous said...

This is typical of socialist Democrats. Something happens, don't look at the facts, overreact.

The fact is, not all the facts are out yet. What we do know is that BP cut corners and this explosion is something that shouldn't have happened. The fact is that there were regulations in place to prevent this from happening. The problem is that the government people charged with handing out the permits after inspections weren't doing their jobs. They were sleeping with the oil company employees. They were looking at porn. They get royalties from these companies that they issue these permits too. In addition to all of this, the Obama administration was giving BP a safety award the day after the explosion.

Since the explosion, the Dutch offered us skimmers that would pick up 200,000 tons a day of the oil headed to the gulf coast. Obama said no because of the Jones Act. Now it's coming out that Britain offered help and that too was turned down.

In his speech the other night, he blamed BP, he blamed the American people, he blamed Bush (naturally), he talked about raising taxes ("some say we can't afford it, I say we can't afford not to"), he talked about making the people whole but not one time...not even a hint...did he say anything about plugging the hole.

This is just like Enron. They got caught stealing money. The Congress immediately rushed to the microphones crying about how we need more laws to prevent this. Laws don't prevent things from happening. The fact is, with Enron, the law worked. They were caught. They were punished, except for Lay who died the day he was to report to prison.

We don't know all of the facts about the explosion, but what we do know is that BP is at fault and so is the government for not doing their job with the permits.

Naturally, you'll disagree with this, which is your right. But the facts are the facts.

Communications guru said...

First of all, anonymous coward, there is no such thing as a socialist Democrat in this country, and that is just a false, fascist Republican talking point. I don’t see any overreaction. That’s also a funny accusation when you are accusing the Obama Administration of not acting fast enough.

The fact is you wouldn’t know a fact if it hit you on the head, and you, as usual, only present opinion and rightwing talking points. I wonder where you got these talking points. You have, as usual, nothing to back up your talking points.

BP was in a hurry to get the oil out to move on and ignored safety rules, went cheap on equipment to maximize profit and lied when they said they had the technology to address a leak. I agree that one problem ”is that the government people charged with handing out the permits after inspections weren't doing their jobs.” That’s being taken care of.

The award was sponsored by the Minerals Management Service, the agency you just said “the government people charged with handing out the permits after inspections weren't doing their jobs.” They didn’t get the award. Tell me what this has to do with the Obama Administration.

As for the Dutch talking point.
“In the past week, the United States submitted its second request to the European Union for any specialized equipment to contain the oil now seeping onto the Gulf of Mexico's marshes and beaches, and it accepted Canada's offer of 9,842 feet of boom. The government is soliciting additional boom and skimmers from nearly two dozen countries and international organizations.
In some cases, the administration rejected offers because they failed to meet U.S. specifications: The private consortium that serves as Norway's spill-response team uses a chemical dispersant that the Environmental Protection Agency has not approved.”
The fact is BP downplayed and even hid the extent of the amount of oil coming out of the well.

He should blame BP because it’s their fault, and Bush deregulation and debt to the oil industry had a lot to do with it. “He blamed the American people?” Here is a link to the text of the speech. Show me where he blamed the American people.

“The fact is, with Enron, the law worked?” Really? Tell that to the people who lost their life savings and their retirements plans.

Now, anonymous coward, can you tell me what this has to do with the possibility of a CAFO dumping thousands of gallons of milk into Michigan’s rivers and streams.

I’m also still waiting for you to back up your fairy tale that we were “nearly shoulder to shoulder once.”

And I appreciate you granting me the right to disagree with you.