Firing Back at NOAA


We’ve seen and read some remarkable testimony before Congress since the British Petroleum spill began, but the comments of Florida State University professor of oceanography Ian MacDonald (Aug. 19) may eventually be included as among the more historic. Step-by-step, the professor simply dismantles that ludicrous NOAA claim that the “vast majority” of the oil is gone.

It’s worth reading the whole testimony (see below), but MacDonald, who serves on the steering committee for the Florida Oil Spill Academic Task Force, makes the case that the vast majority remains – we just don’t know its exact form. He notes that: “… 90 percent of the discharge was not removed from the marine environment by human agency; a fraction, perhaps 10 percent, will have evaporated into the air. The balance remains in the marine and coastal ecosystem even if it has changed form and become less visible.”

Then later, he refreshingly points out that there are some things we just don’t know, testifying that: “Finally, for the oil still in the ocean, the report makes the claim that the oil in all its forms in the ocean ‘is biodegrading quickly.’ It is my testimony to this committee that science simply does not know how quickly or slowly oil will degrade either in surface waters or in the deep waters of the Gulf.”

Then he recommends a “pay the gulf first” strategy and endorses the permanent “Ocean Endowment” being proposed by U.S. Senators Snowe and Whitehouse that would create a permanent conservation fund, paid for by fees and fines on the offshore extraction industry.

A truly remarkable, reasoned and methodical testimony that anyone interested in the Gulf should read. It’s here: IanMacDonaldTestimony8.192010

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Stuart H. Smith is an attorney based in New Orleans fighting major oil companies and other polluters.
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