The State of the State: Observations of Law and Politics in Mississippi

Friday, May 21, 2010 - 08:35

Several posts ago, I discussed how much I like David Brooks' column in the New York Times. Well, he has done it again. Instead of attempting to paraphrase his words, I have copied his post below. He is right on the money:

Let’s imagine a character named Ben. A couple of decades ago, Ben went to high school.

It wasn’t easy. His parents were splitting up. His friends would cut class to smoke weed. His sister got pregnant. But Ben worked hard and graduated with decent grades and then studied at East Stroudsburg University and the University of Phoenix.

Thursday, May 20, 2010 - 10:02

Today's New Orleans Times Picayune contains a story which provides more damning information for BP. You can find the story here - (

Tuesday, May 18, 2010 - 10:05

BP has 15% of its company assets deployed in the Gulf of Mexico, which is more than Hess (12%), Murphy Oil (9%), Chevron (5%), Shell (5%), Marathon Oil (5%), ExxonMobil (2%) or any other company. Despite this fact, BP has openly acknowledged since at least 2004 that it wasn't prepared for the "long-term, round-the-clock task of dealing with a deep-sea spill."

Sunday, May 16, 2010 - 16:28

There is an account of a sworn statement provided by Michael Williams, a Transocean employee who was chief electronics technician on the rig, in the weekend edition of The Wall Street Journal. In the account, Mr. Williams describes "confusion" among BP, Transocean and Halliburton in the final hours before the explosion.

Friday, May 14, 2010 - 17:24

It is important to remember that the Deepwater Horizon was a drilling rig, not a production rig. Its function was to locate and drill for oil. Once it completed that task, it was the job of workers on the rig to "cap" the well until another vessel could come and capture the oil and gas.

On April 20, the Deepwater Horizon crew was in the process of capping the well. Standard operating procedure calls for pressure testing to be done to ensure that the cement utilized to set and cap the well is not allowing any leakage or seepage of oil and gas.

Thursday, May 13, 2010 - 16:35

Transocean is the owner of the Deepwater Horizon. Today, it took legal action in a Texas federal district court to limit its liability for the damages arising out of the well blowout. The rig was worth somewhere in the neighborhood of $650 million before it sunk to the bottom of the Gulf. Transocean claims it's now worth about $27 million.

Why does the value of the rig matter? Because the Limitation of Liability Act, under certain circumstances, caps a vessel owner's total liability at the value of the vessel at the conclusion of its voyage.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010 - 09:45

In this New York Times article (, experts discuss BP's preparedness for an uncontrolled blowout on a deepwater drilling rig and offer some pretty tough commentary:

- "Blowouts are surprisingly regular occurrences. But ones that lead to catastrophic spills like this are quite rare." John Amos, Geologist who testified before Congress that the East Timor blowout was a warning signal to industry to...

Monday, May 10, 2010 - 17:03

This story ( notes the EPA's air testing data taken from Venice, Louisiana shows "levels of airborne chemicals have far exceeded state standards and what's considered safe for human exposure." Chemicals discussed include hydrogen sulfide (...

Monday, May 10, 2010 - 13:45

In this article (, Mother Jones highlights BP's efforts to fight certain aspects of the financial reform legislation being discussed on Capitol Hill.

Sunday, May 9, 2010 - 20:36

I've been thinking about the story of the scorpion and the toad. It goes like this: A scorpion and a toad find themselves at a river bank. The scorpion really wants to cross the river and knows it cannot swim; so, it turns to the toad and says, "Listen, you can swim and I can't. We both want to cross the river, so I have a deal for you. If you let me ride on your back while you swim, I promise to protect you from any predators that may try to eat you for the rest of your days." The toad was skeptical. He told the scorpion, "You're a scorpion.