Superstorm Sandy Leaves a Lot of Questions

Sean Cosgrove

President Barack Obama hugs Donna Vanzant, the owner of North Point Marina, as he tours damage from Hurricane Sandy in Brigantine, N.J., Oct. 31, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

The full impact of this hurricane is still becoming known. The storm has taken at least 94 lives, including those of two small boys who were recovered after several days of searching. As a father of two young children this sent a shock wave through my psyche. I feel very fortunate that my extended family and friends along the Atlantic seaboard suffered no more than a power outage and a few lost roof shingles.

As if the floods of early 2010 and Hurricane Irene weren’t enough, the latest photos and news accounts from New Jersey and the New York City area create a smashing realization that the really massive hurricane disasters, the Katrina-like disasters which take years to recover from, aren’t just relegated to the Gulf coast and the Deep South. New England, New Jersey and the other Mid-Atlantic States, and even inland towards the Great Lake states, are all going to have to create new contingency plans for hurricane season.

The immense size and increasing ferocity of the storm’s descent on New England could be both felt and measured. On Monday afternoon a little before 1:00pm the wave height at Cashes Ledge, as indicated by its resident weather buoy 80 miles off the coast of Portland, registered 15.1 feet. About one hour later the wave height was up past 23 feet. This was about the time the trees outside my office in Washington DC started to shed small branches and the same time I’m on the phone with colleagues in Boston over 400 miles away and we are all experiencing the same storm. Do the effects of climate change create a storm such as Sandy or only increase its size and strength? Is that even a pertinent question anymore?

After a decade and a half of the issue of climate change slipping further off the edge of the political and public debate, we see media outlets this week claiming its resurgence. Bloomberg Businessweek gets the full story. The Washington Post has two columnists noting that the climate change issue is back. And, is if timed to make a couple of points, Mayor Bloomberg himself made climate change the centerpiece of his endorsement of the President. Will Sandy really help shift the dialogue, or will the climate deniers and polluters just double down?

Our reaction in the wake of the Superstorm can provide a clear indication of the future and how quickly we can embrace a more realistic, mature approach to crisis management and recovery. Can we start with an honest assessment and some better planning? Or are we going to be stuck – still – in the blatantly self-serving political posturing that avoids real measures to address climate change and its exceptionally well-predicted impacts? There are number of us in New England who both love the ocean and love to use it, and believe that better scientific information and a better process to site new and replaced infrastructure is a great direction to go. We need to develop clean energy sources. We need a healthier ocean and protected habitat. We need existing and new coastal businesses and ocean industries.  The National Ocean Policy is now ready for full implementation. Is there better time to start?

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4 Responses to “Superstorm Sandy Leaves a Lot of Questions”

  1. Under cover of Sandy, serious GOP/Big Oil shenanigans with long-term consequences for New England

    So…like so many, tonight I was cruising election stories, helping to forward aid info for coordinators of Sandy relief, etc, etc …and a little piece of news flashes by me. A moment later, my brain apparently gets some extra oxygen, and grabs onto it: “..Jones Act suspended..”

    Screeching brakes. EH?

    I quickly find several brief articles on it, Bloomberg, Forbes, and Yahoo News, none which appear to have been noticed by the public due to the Sandy aid efforts and the election around the corner. I read all three. I am alarmed. I am a New Englander, living in Massachusetts.

    Why would Obama suddenly lift the permanent, long-standing restrictions on foreign tankers docking at East Coast ports?

    Hurricane Sandy = mysterious, unreported national US oil shortage?? Nope.

    It made no sense, which, when that applies to politics and/or profiteers, makes me, at least, instantly suspicious. The facts:

    1. Two east coast refineries were temporarily shut down by Sandy.

    2. The East Coast is suffering no fuel shortages or delivery issues; damaged stations only await cleanup to resume business in hard-hit areas. This is a temporary condition.

    2. Homeland Security got the waiver of the Jones Act, after a company requested it – a company that they refuse to name. Obama signed the waiver.

    3. The waiver is supposed to be only until November 11th, but then we see this in one of the articles:

    ” Energy experts said the waiver might not bring immediate relief to fuel-strapped New York and New Jersey, where two refineries were shut by Sandy. But, in the longer term, shipping alternatives could help ensure steady supply.”

    Longer term? And then this:

    “There appears to be no urgent need at the moment” for a Jones Act waiver, said Bob McNally, head of Washington-based consulting firm the Rapidan Group. He said shortages so far have been at the retail level rather than the maritime import level.”

    Now it makes even less sense. Waiving the Jones Act will provide no relief for the shortages – because the stations have to be repaired before they can refuel. We don’t need tankers bringing fuel to our ports, there is no delivery issue or shortage. There is no reason for this. But there must be.

    Now I’m concerned and smell shenanigans. So I look up the Rapidan Group – who somehow had the chance to make analysis and policy and comment in a mere couple of days since Sandy -along with some mysterious company that asked Homeland Security to waive the Jones Act – all, apparently, simultaneously. One starts to assume there is a connection between these things, yes? Indeed there is:

    The Rapidan Group:
    Garrett Golding, from Dallas, TX, is an Energy Market and Policy Analyst with the Rapidan Group. Mr. Golding spent six years working at the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. His efforts at the Committee focused on LNG export and pipeline infrastructure policy, including the Keystone XL pipeline, the Strategic Petroleum Reserve & hydraulic fracturing. Under Bush.

    Now I’m on fire. Bush. Texas. Keystone XL. Canada. Tar Sands. New England fracking. Pipeline through northern New England straight to our coasts to sell the profits to the foreign markets via our ports. Bingo. I remember the attempt to get the Jones Act lifted, back in 2010 – again, by Texas investors – who ARE the pipeline & fracking projects – and undercover as a Canadian company or two. Back then they said it was because the Jones Act was making it hard to clean up after Katrina.

    Under cover of a major disaster on the East Coast, and days before a national election, they got the Jones Act lifted – a necessary step in the Keystone XL pipeline, Canaddian tar sands to New England (and secondarily, fracking in New England) profiteering plan. You bastards.

    The waiver won’t be temporary; anyone taking bets?

    New Englanders cannot let this pass, nor can it wait.

    We spent decades cleaning up our coastline and wetlands; now they want oil tankers, with abysmal records of leaks, and a pipeline (BP’s pipeline leaked 800 times, to date) running from Canada through our pristine northern forests all the way to our coast – so they can sell oil on the foreign market, from our ports, for their own corporate profit. (This is another pipeline, not the XL. See http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/eshope/that_pipeline_through_new_engl.html)

    We also currently have ZERO laws against, nor safety guidelines – about fracking. We are a tiny geological area that fracking would do massive environmental harm to; many of us rely on well water, fracking would contaminate our water tables; not to mention the increased threat of earthquakes and sinkholes. We’ve already seen what they’ve done elsewhere, and to their own Gulf area.

    Will New Englanders allow Texas profiteers to ruin our part of the country, also, to merely increase their off-shored billions even further?

    No, no, no and no. Get to your Reps and Senators, and do it quickly; and please share this info.

    Sources:
    http://www.forbes.com/sites/abrambrown/2012/11/02/u-s-cuts-up-red-tape-to-allow-foreign-oil-tankers-into-east-coast/

    http://news.yahoo.com/u-issues-blanket-jones-act-waiver-fuel-tankers-152041390.html

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-11-02/u-s-gulf-gasoline-increases-after-jones-act-is-suspended.html

    http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2010/06/21/robert-bluey-gulf-spill-katrina-jones-act-waive-obama/

  2. Under cover of Sandy, serious GOP/Big Oil shenanigans with long-term consequences for New England

    So…like so many, tonight I was cruising election stories, helping to forward aid info for coordinators of Sandy relief, etc, etc …and a little piece of news flashes by me. A moment later, my brain apparently gets some extra oxygen, and grabs onto it: “..Jones Act suspended..”

    Screeching brakes. EH?

    I quickly find several brief articles on it, Bloomberg, Forbes, and Yahoo News, none which appear to have been noticed by the public due to the Sandy aid efforts and the election around the corner. I read all three. I am alarmed. I am a New Englander, living in Massachusetts.

    Why would Obama suddenly lift the permanent, long-standing restrictions on foreign tankers docking at East Coast ports?

    Hurricane Sandy = mysterious, unreported national US oil shortage?? Nope.

    It made no sense, which, when that applies to politics and/or profiteers, makes me, at least, instantly suspicious. The facts:

    1. Two east coast refineries were temporarily shut down by Sandy.

    2. The East Coast is suffering no fuel shortages or delivery issues; damaged stations only await cleanup to resume business in hard-hit areas. This is a temporary condition.

    2. Homeland Security got the waiver of the Jones Act, after a company requested it – a company that they refuse to name. Obama signed the waiver.

    3. The waiver is supposed to be only until November 11th, but then we see this in one of the articles:

    ” Energy experts said the waiver might not bring immediate relief to fuel-strapped New York and New Jersey, where two refineries were shut by Sandy. But, in the longer term, shipping alternatives could help ensure steady supply.”

    Longer term? And then this:

    “There appears to be no urgent need at the moment” for a Jones Act waiver, said Bob McNally, head of Washington-based consulting firm the Rapidan Group. He said shortages so far have been at the retail level rather than the maritime import level.”

    Now it makes even less sense. Waiving the Jones Act will provide no relief for the shortages – because the stations have to be repaired before they can refuel. We don’t need tankers bringing fuel to our ports, there is no delivery issue or shortage. There is no reason for this. But there must be.

    Now I’m concerned and smell shenanigans. So I look up the Rapidan Group – who somehow had the chance to make analysis and policy and comment in a mere couple of days since Sandy -along with some mysterious company that asked Homeland Security to waive the Jones Act – all, apparently, simultaneously. One starts to assume there is a connection between these things, yes? Indeed there is:

    The Rapidan Group:
    Garrett Golding, from Dallas, TX, is an Energy Market and Policy Analyst with the Rapidan Group. Mr. Golding spent six years working at the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. His efforts at the Committee focused on LNG export and pipeline infrastructure policy, including the Keystone XL pipeline, the Strategic Petroleum Reserve & hydraulic fracturing. Under Bush.

    Now I’m on fire. Bush. Texas. Keystone XL. Canada. Tar Sands. New England fracking. Pipeline through northern New England straight to our coasts to sell the profits to the foreign markets via our ports. Bingo. I remember the attempt to get the Jones Act lifted, back in 2010 – again, by Texas investors – who ARE the pipeline & fracking projects – and undercover as a Canadian company or two. Back then they said it was because the Jones Act was making it hard to clean up after Katrina.

    Under cover of a major disaster on the East Coast, and days before a national election, they got the Jones Act lifted – a necessary step in the Keystone XL pipeline, Canaddian tar sands to New England (and secondarily, fracking in New England) profiteering plan. You bastards.

    The waiver won’t be temporary; anyone taking bets?

    New Englanders cannot let this pass, nor can it wait.

    We spent decades cleaning up our coastline and wetlands; now they want oil tankers, with abysmal records of leaks, and a pipeline (BP’s pipeline leaked 800 times, to date) running from Canada through our pristine northern forests all the way to our coast – so they can sell oil on the foreign market, from our ports, for their own corporate profit. (This is another pipeline, not the XL. See http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/eshope/that_pipeline_through_new_engl.html)

    We also currently have ZERO laws against, nor safety guidelines – about fracking. We are a tiny geological area that fracking would do massive environmental harm to; many of us rely on well water, fracking would contaminate our water tables; not to mention the increased threat of earthquakes and sinkholes. We’ve already seen what they’ve done elsewhere, and to their own Gulf area.

    Will New Englanders allow Texas profiteers to ruin our part of the country, also, to merely increase their off-shored billions even further?

    No, no, no and no. Get to your Reps and Senators, and do it quickly; and please share this info.

    Sources:
    http://www.forbes.com/sites/abrambrown/2012/11/02/u-s-cuts-up-red-tape-to-allow-foreign-oil-tankers-into-east-coast/

    http://news.yahoo.com/u-issues-blanket-jones-act-waiver-fuel-tankers-152041390.html

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-11-02/u-s-gulf-gasoline-increases-after-jones-act-is-suspended.html

    http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2010/06/21/robert-bluey-gulf-spill-katrina-jones-act-waive-obama/

  3. Under cover of Sandy, serious GOP/Big Oil shenanigans with long-term consequences for New England

    So…like so many, tonight I was cruising election stories, helping to forward aid info for coordinators of Sandy relief, etc, etc …and a little piece of news flashes by me. A moment later, my brain apparently gets some extra oxygen, and grabs onto it: “..Jones Act suspended..”

    Screeching brakes. EH?

    I quickly find several brief articles on it, Bloomberg, Forbes, and Yahoo News, none which appear to have been noticed by the public due to the Sandy aid efforts and the election around the corner. I read all three. I am alarmed. I am a New Englander, living in Massachusetts.

    Why would Obama suddenly lift the permanent, long-standing restrictions on foreign tankers docking at East Coast ports?

    Hurricane Sandy = mysterious, unreported national US oil shortage?? Nope.

    It made no sense, which, when that applies to politics and/or profiteers, makes me, at least, instantly suspicious. The facts:

    1. Two east coast refineries were temporarily shut down by Sandy.

    2. The East Coast is suffering no fuel shortages or delivery issues; damaged stations only await cleanup to resume business in hard-hit areas. This is a temporary condition.

    2. Homeland Security got the waiver of the Jones Act, after a company requested it – a company that they refuse to name. Obama signed the waiver.

    3. The waiver is supposed to be only until November 11th, but then we see this in one of the articles:

    ” Energy experts said the waiver might not bring immediate relief to fuel-strapped New York and New Jersey, where two refineries were shut by Sandy. But, in the longer term, shipping alternatives could help ensure steady supply.”

    Longer term? And then this:

    “There appears to be no urgent need at the moment” for a Jones Act waiver, said Bob McNally, head of Washington-based consulting firm the Rapidan Group. He said shortages so far have been at the retail level rather than the maritime import level.”

    Now it makes even less sense. Waiving the Jones Act will provide no relief for the shortages – because the stations have to be repaired before they can refuel. We don’t need tankers bringing fuel to our ports, there is no delivery issue or shortage. There is no reason for this. But there must be.

    Now I’m concerned and smell shenanigans. So I look up the Rapidan Group – who somehow had the chance to make analysis and policy and comment in a mere couple of days since Sandy -along with some mysterious company that asked Homeland Security to waive the Jones Act – all, apparently, simultaneously. One starts to assume there is a connection between these things, yes? Indeed there is:

    The Rapidan Group:
    Garrett Golding, from Dallas, TX, is an Energy Market and Policy Analyst with the Rapidan Group. Mr. Golding spent six years working at the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. His efforts at the Committee focused on LNG export and pipeline infrastructure policy, including the Keystone XL pipeline, the Strategic Petroleum Reserve & hydraulic fracturing. Under Bush.

    Now I’m on fire. Bush. Texas. Keystone XL. Canada. Tar Sands. New England fracking. Pipeline through northern New England straight to our coasts to sell the profits to the foreign markets via our ports. Bingo. I remember the attempt to get the Jones Act lifted, back in 2010 – again, by Texas investors – who ARE the pipeline & fracking projects – and undercover as a Canadian company or two. Back then they said it was because the Jones Act was making it hard to clean up after Katrina.

    Under cover of a major disaster on the East Coast, and days before a national election, they got the Jones Act lifted – a necessary step in the Keystone XL pipeline, Canaddian tar sands to New England (and secondarily, fracking in New England) profiteering plan. You bastards.

    The waiver won’t be temporary; anyone taking bets?

    New Englanders cannot let this pass, nor can it wait.

    We spent decades cleaning up our coastline and wetlands; now they want oil tankers, with abysmal records of leaks, and a pipeline (BP’s pipeline leaked 800 times, to date) running from Canada through our pristine northern forests all the way to our coast – so they can sell oil on the foreign market, from our ports, for their own corporate profit. (This is another pipeline, not the XL. See http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/eshope/that_pipeline_through_new_engl.html)

    We also currently have ZERO laws against, nor safety guidelines – about fracking. We are a tiny geological area that fracking would do massive environmental harm to; many of us rely on well water, fracking would contaminate our water tables; not to mention the increased threat of earthquakes and sinkholes. We’ve already seen what they’ve done elsewhere, and to their own Gulf area.

    Will New Englanders allow Texas profiteers to ruin our part of the country, also, to merely increase their off-shored billions even further?

    No, no, no and no. Get to your Reps and Senators, and do it quickly; and please share this info.

    Sources:
    http://www.forbes.com/sites/abrambrown/2012/11/02/u-s-cuts-up-red-tape-to-allow-foreign-oil-tankers-into-east-coast/

    http://news.yahoo.com/u-issues-blanket-jones-act-waiver-fuel-tankers-152041390.html

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-11-02/u-s-gulf-gasoline-increases-after-jones-act-is-suspended.html

    http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2010/06/21/robert-bluey-gulf-spill-katrina-jones-act-waive-obama/

  4. Under cover of Sandy, serious GOP/Big Oil shenanigans with long-term consequences for New England

    So…like so many, tonight I was cruising election stories, helping to forward aid info for coordinators of Sandy relief, etc, etc …and a little piece of news flashes by me. A moment later, my brain apparently gets some extra oxygen, and grabs onto it: “..Jones Act suspended..”

    Screeching brakes. EH?

    I quickly find several brief articles on it, Bloomberg, Forbes, and Yahoo News, none which appear to have been noticed by the public due to the Sandy aid efforts and the election around the corner. I read all three. I am alarmed. I am a New Englander, living in Massachusetts.

    Why would Obama suddenly lift the permanent, long-standing restrictions on foreign tankers docking at East Coast ports?

    Hurricane Sandy = mysterious, unreported national US oil shortage?? Nope.

    It made no sense, which, when that applies to politics and/or profiteers, makes me, at least, instantly suspicious. The facts:

    1. Two east coast refineries were temporarily shut down by Sandy.

    2. The East Coast is suffering no fuel shortages or delivery issues; damaged stations only await cleanup to resume business in hard-hit areas. This is a temporary condition.

    2. Homeland Security got the waiver of the Jones Act, after a company requested it – a company that they refuse to name. Obama signed the waiver.

    3. The waiver is supposed to be only until November 11th, but then we see this in one of the articles:

    ” Energy experts said the waiver might not bring immediate relief to fuel-strapped New York and New Jersey, where two refineries were shut by Sandy. But, in the longer term, shipping alternatives could help ensure steady supply.”

    Longer term? And then this:

    “There appears to be no urgent need at the moment” for a Jones Act waiver, said Bob McNally, head of Washington-based consulting firm the Rapidan Group. He said shortages so far have been at the retail level rather than the maritime import level.”

    Now it makes even less sense. Waiving the Jones Act will provide no relief for the shortages – because the stations have to be repaired before they can refuel. We don’t need tankers bringing fuel to our ports, there is no delivery issue or shortage. There is no reason for this. But there must be.

    Now I’m concerned and smell shenanigans. So I look up the Rapidan Group – who somehow had the chance to make analysis and policy and comment in a mere couple of days since Sandy -along with some mysterious company that asked Homeland Security to waive the Jones Act – all, apparently, simultaneously. One starts to assume there is a connection between these things, yes? Indeed there is:

    The Rapidan Group:
    Garrett Golding, from Dallas, TX, is an Energy Market and Policy Analyst with the Rapidan Group. Mr. Golding spent six years working at the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. His efforts at the Committee focused on LNG export and pipeline infrastructure policy, including the Keystone XL pipeline, the Strategic Petroleum Reserve & hydraulic fracturing. Under Bush.

    Now I’m on fire. Bush. Texas. Keystone XL. Canada. Tar Sands. New England fracking. Pipeline through northern New England straight to our coasts to sell the profits to the foreign markets via our ports. Bingo. I remember the attempt to get the Jones Act lifted, back in 2010 – again, by Texas investors – who ARE the pipeline & fracking projects – and undercover as a Canadian company or two. Back then they said it was because the Jones Act was making it hard to clean up after Katrina.

    Under cover of a major disaster on the East Coast, and days before a national election, they got the Jones Act lifted – a necessary step in the Keystone XL pipeline, Canaddian tar sands to New England (and secondarily, fracking in New England) profiteering plan. You bastards.

    The waiver won’t be temporary; anyone taking bets?

    New Englanders cannot let this pass, nor can it wait.

    We spent decades cleaning up our coastline and wetlands; now they want oil tankers, with abysmal records of leaks, and a pipeline (BP’s pipeline leaked 800 times, to date) running from Canada through our pristine northern forests all the way to our coast – so they can sell oil on the foreign market, from our ports, for their own corporate profit. (This is another pipeline, not the XL. See http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/eshope/that_pipeline_through_new_engl.html)

    We also currently have ZERO laws against, nor safety guidelines – about fracking. We are a tiny geological area that fracking would do massive environmental harm to; many of us rely on well water, fracking would contaminate our water tables; not to mention the increased threat of earthquakes and sinkholes. We’ve already seen what they’ve done elsewhere, and to their own Gulf area.

    Will New Englanders allow Texas profiteers to ruin our part of the country, also, to merely increase their off-shored billions even further?

    No, no, no and no. Get to your Reps and Senators, and do it quickly; and please share this info.

    Sources:
    http://www.forbes.com/sites/abrambrown/2012/11/02/u-s-cuts-up-red-tape-to-allow-foreign-oil-tankers-into-east-coast/

    http://news.yahoo.com/u-issues-blanket-jones-act-waiver-fuel-tankers-152041390.html

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-11-02/u-s-gulf-gasoline-increases-after-jones-act-is-suspended.html

    http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2010/06/21/robert-bluey-gulf-spill-katrina-jones-act-waive-obama/

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