Small victories

June 4, 2010 1:36:59 PM PDT
When the war is being so badly lost, it's tempting to grasp at any small victories.

Which is what some people are doing today in the Gulf of Mexico, where the latest attempt to stop the leak has apparently meant the capture of 1,000 barrels a day that had been leaking.

You don't have to be an M.I.T. grad to do the hard math, however. With an estimated 12,000 to 19,000 barrels a day spewing into the waters of the Gulf, it's a sliver of the overall leak.

But it is a start, and if the cap that was put on last night can be applied to the other leaks, the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history might finally stop getting worse.

We'll see.

Certainly Pres. Obama - usually the optimist (some say he's been too optimistic throughout this crisis) - today sounding not-so-much on his third visit to the oil spill.

"I think we have to caution against over-optimism here," he said.

Anger towards BP from all quarters, regardless of politics, is remarkable. And there's no shortage of examples.

My favorite one today comes from the executive director of the Santa Rosa Island Authority, who has jurisdiction of Pensacola Beach in Florida, where tar balls have washed ashore.

Buck Lee and his colleagues called BP subcontractors at 6 this morning to tell them about the gobs of beached oil, and asked that they immediately remove them. Lee said the company said it would send a survey team.

"I told them I didn't need a survey team," said Lee. "I needed a team to pick this stuff up." By mid-morning the clean up crew still hadn't shown up. "We need to get BP out of the picture," Lee said. "We need to get their subcontractors out of the picture. They seem to be idiots."

He may be angry at BP, but he's still not closing the beaches, despite the oil and the possibility that the tar balls contain toxins.

"It's like having jellyfish," he rationalized. "You just try to stay away from 'em."

We'll have the latest on the oil crisis in the Gulf, tonight at 11.

And thanks to all of you who wrote in with your opinions about what's happening down there. One viewer/reader, V.V. from New York, had a couple of novel ideas.

"When I was younger," wrote V.V., "there were several movies?. Where oil rigs were out of control and they plugged them by blasting them shut. Could this not work in this particular case? I know BP has a vested interest, but that point is moot now, isn't it? The quality of the environment takes precedence.

"In regards to the fish ? and other water creatures that may be dying off: Could we not harvest them and farm some, to release later when conditions are more favorable (they will be the seeds that will spawn new generations - if they are saved)?"

Of course, the BP rig was already blasted - but open, not shut. And I thought the harvesting notion intriguing. Too bad many of the fish and other creatures are already contaminated.

But the bigger point is that people are thinking about what to do, which is something the folks at BP should have done before all this happened. And the real lesson is that the government should insist on some type of fail-safe plan before any new oil drilling is approved in the future. Clearly, BP and presumably the others didn't give the possibility of a catastrophe a nanosecond of thought.

We're the fools if we let it happen again. I'm just sayin'.

Also at 11, a cool story out of New Jersey, where a relatively young man with a heart condition went to the hospital yesterday, feeling faint. They told him he had to have surgery. He asked if they could do it quickly because he had a wedding to go to today. He left the hospital today. Just in time for the wedding. His wedding.

We'll have the story, tonight.

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Jeff Smith, in for Lee Goldberg, with the weekend AccuWeather forecast, and Scott Clark with the night's sports. I hope you can join Liz Cho and me, tonight at 11, right after 20/20.

BILL RITTER


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