Get the BP spill flow rate right *now* -- call Congress, 202-224-3121

Dear Congressman Van Hollen,

I'm reading today that the volume of oil being spilled from the Deepwater Horizon disaster site may be substantially larger than government estimates first indicated.
It's *imperative* to get the *best possible estimates* of the size of this catastrophe, and it's imperative that BP not be allowed to obstruct that in any way, shape, or form, and indeed that those, um, ne'er-do-wells be compelled to pay for those best possible estimates. Time is of the essence; please add your voice to those urging the best possible estimates of the flow rate from that well. Woods Hole scientists and equipment should be flown there *today*.

(The URL for the article is

From the article (Size of Oil Spill Underestimated, Scientists Say, Gillis, NYTimes)

...BP has repeatedly said that its highest priority is stopping the leak, not measuring it. “There’s just no way to measure it,” Kent Wells, a BP senior vice president, said in a recent briefing.
Yet for decades, specialists have used a technique that is almost tailor-made for the problem. With undersea gear that resembles the ultrasound machines in medical offices, they measure the flow rate from hot-water vents on the ocean floor. Scientists said that such equipment could be tuned to allow for accurate measurement of oil and gas flowing from the well.

Richard Camilli and Andy Bowen, of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts, who have routinely made such measurements, spoke extensively to BP last week, Mr. Bowen said. They were poised to fly to the gulf to conduct volume measurements.

But they were contacted late in the week and told not to come, at around the time BP decided to lower a large metal container to try to capture the leak. That maneuver failed. They have not been invited again.

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A scientist commissioned by NPR has used apparently similar techniques to estimate that the oil well is gushing 70,000 barrels or 2.9 million gallons of oil per day, give or take 20%. (Via Michael Whitney, "Firedoglake.") That midpoint estimate is nearly 15 times as much as NOAA and Coast Guard estimates issued early on. I'm not saying the government is deliberately low-balling the size of this catastrophe, but they absolutely must keep working on getting a handle on it.

"Just no way to measure it." Nice trick, when it works: we don't measure civilian casualties we cause in Iraq, we don't measure oil volcanoes we cause in the Gulf. This kind of willful ignorance makes it too easy to turn around and do it all again, because "who knows" what the real costs are.

And meanwhile, Congress appears more interested in getting BP off the hook than on it.

To call your own congressperson, call the switchboard at 202-224-3121 or look up the number here.

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