POSTED: 21 JULY 2008 - 3:00pm HST

Rig Visit Cancelled, Huge Oil Spill Nearby

image above: Offshore oil rig in Gulf of Mexico


by ukit on 23 July 2008 in

Poor John McCain can't seem to catch a break. He had planned to counter Barack Obama's historic Berlin speech on Thursday with a visit to a Louisiana oil rig to highlight his support of offshore drilling.

As Jonathan Martin at the Politico had reported:

While Barack Obama is speaking about international affairs in Germany before thousands of fans tomorrow, John McCain will be talking about a pressing domestic issue with an equally striking if very different backdrop.

Weather permitting, McCain will helicopter from Louisiana to an oil rig in the Gulf Coast to make the case for expanded off-shore drilling, says a McCain aide.
Now, Drudge is reporting that his oil rig photo op has been canceled due to weather....and it's been confirmed by MSNBC. McCain will travel to Ohio instead.

Of course, dropping by an oil rig would hardly have matched Barack's speech to a million Berliners in front of the historic Victory Column. But it would have at least offered a counterpoint of sorts.

Events just don't seem to be moving in McCain's favor. You can imagine Schmidt patting himself on the back thinking he had finally scored a PR coup for the old man, only to see his plans thwarted by the weather, of all things.

UPDATE: Could this have something to do with it?

The U.S. Coast Guard has closed 29 miles of the Mississippi River from New Orleans southward after a tanker and a barge collided, spilling more than 400,000 gallons of fuel oil into the river.

Tugboats hold up pieces of a barge after it collided with a tanker Wednesday in the Mississippi River in New Orleans.

The river, a major shipping route between the Midwest and Gulf of Mexico, could be closed for days during the cleanup, the Coast Guard said Wednesday.

More than 30 ships already are queued up along the river, waiting to pass through the closed zone, Coast Guard Petty Officer Jaclyn Young said.

The Coast Guard has deployed 45,000 feet of inflatable booms to contain the spill and is lining up another 29,000 feet, but it could be days before the river is reopened, she said.

The accident left a sheen over 90 percent of the area, she said.

Probably not the imagery the Republicans wanted for McCain's offshore drilling speech.

According to the report, the entire load of the barge, some 9,983 barrels of oil, was likely spilled. The oil was #6 fuel oil, which is an unrefined oil used primarily for heating refinery boilers and is notoriously difficult to clean up:

State Department of Environmental Quality officials warned the unrefined, tar-like # 6 fuel oil is so thick that it could sink, complicating the cleanup efforts. Therefore, the fuel oil won't simply evaporate off the surface, which means workers will try to remove it before it starts to sink.

Additionally, the spill has already disrupted the local drinking supply:

Residents in Algiers, Gretna, St. Bernard Parish and Plaquemines Parish are also being asked to conserve water, as water intakes for those communities are closed to prevent contamination of the drinking water supply. Water flowing through the tap is from reserve supplies, which could run out in many areas by afternoon or early evening, officials said.

Finally, the report offers a sobering description of the disaster area:
Oil from the spill is visible along the New Orleans riverfront, with a thick coat of black muck washing up along the rocks near the Moonwalk. Farther away from the bank, the muck broke off into small islands.

A thick blanket of oil stuck to the hull of a Coast Guard cutter patrolling the area between the wrecked barge and the riverfront near the Aquarium of the Americas. The surrounding air there smells like it would near a gas station or in a traffic jam, only stronger.

Is God helping Barack or what???
by Mark Palmer on 23 July 2008 for

Republican Presidential Candidate John McCain, who has been falling all over himself supporting President George Bush’s plan to drill drill drill in America’s most pristine places for oil and who has been faulting Democratic Candidate Barack Obama for his failure to address high gasoline prices, was planning a press conference on a Louisiana offshore oil platform.

BUT, there is a dangerous, monumental oil spill from a barge on the Mississippi River, just inshore of McCain’s press conference. It will take days to clean up.
McCain’s response? He will go to Ohio instead!!

(See the Daily Kos above)

At the risk of sounding like a broken record:

Please contact your Senators and Representatives and URGE THEM TO NOT SELL OUT OUR COASTS TO THE OIL COMPANIES. We need energy alternatives and conservation, not more oil from fragile ocean habitats! (And put in a good word for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, while you are at it...)
You can call the Capitol Switchboard (202) 224-3121 and ask for your Senator’s or Representative’s office, or you can go to their home page and send an e-mail to them. Or go to:

Want to do more? Republic Presidential candidate John McCain has endorsed Bush’s drive to drill our fragile coastal areas for 2.6 years more of oil. Democratic Presidential candidate Barack Obama is skeptical.

Plus, ALL members of the House of Representatives and one-third of the US Senate will be up for election in November!

Mark J. Palmer:
Associate Director International Marine Mammal Project
Director, Wildlife Alive Earth Island Institute
300 Broadway, Suite 28
San Francisco, CA 94133
(415) 788-3666 x139
(530) 758-6022 (Davis Office)
(415) 788-7324 (Fax)