Tar balls hit Texas, whose governor said the BP disaster was an ˜act of god

Back in May, speaking at trade association supported by BP, Texas Gov. Perry (R) claimed the rig disaster was an ‘act of God.’ Now the oil has hit his shores, and TP has the story.

Tar balls have now hit every single state on the Gulf Coast, “after a bucket’s worth of tar balls hit a Texas beach.” The AP reports:

The oil’s arrival in Texas was predicted Friday by an analysis from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which gave a 40 percent chance of crude reaching the area.

It was just a matter of time that some of the oil would find its way to Texas,” said Hans Graber, a marine physicist at the University of Miami and co-director of the Center for Southeastern Tropical Advanced Remote Sensing.

About five gallons of tar balls were found Saturday on the Bolivar Peninsula, northeast of Galveston, said Capt. Marcus Woodring, the Coast Guard commander for the Houston/Galveston sector. Two gallons were found Sunday on the peninsula and Galveston Island, though tests have not yet confirmed the oil’s origin.

Texas Land Commissioner responded, “Any Texas shores impacted by the Deepwater spill will be cleaned up quickly and BP will be picking up the tab.” In an initial statement, Perry said that he wanted to “assure Texans that we are taking aggressive steps to address this situation and to mitigate any effects to our beaches.” Recently, Perry was being far more conciliatory to BP about the oil disaster. In fact, in May “” at a trade association conference funded by BP “” Perry said that the oil spill wasn’t BP’s fault at all:

“We don’t know what the event that has allowed for this massive oil to be released,” Perry said alongside several other governors on a panel Monday. “And until we know that, I hope we don’t see a knee-jerk reaction across this country that says we’re going to shut down drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, because the cost to this country will be staggering.” Perry questioned whether the spill was “just an act of God that occurred” and said that any “politically driven” decisions could put the U.S. in further economic peril. “From time to time there are going to be things that occur that are acts of God that cannot be prevented,” Perry said.

He later tried to walk back his comments, saying that a “mechanical failure” was possibly the cause. He nevertheless added, “I don’t think that a big wave came along at a very inopportune time and caused”¦but I don’t know that.” He also said that BP has “historically had a very good safety record from my perspective,” even though a BP refinery in Texas released more than 400 pounds a day of benzene over a 40-day period from early April to mid May 2010.

In 2009, BP donated $250,000 to restore Perry’s “arson-burned” mansion “” the largest contribution from more than 400 businesses and individuals who gave to the project. According to the Houston Chronicle, in 2005, Perry announced “that the Texas Enterprise Fund would give BP America up to $ 750,000 to create 150 jobs as it spins off its chemicals business,” although it was soon revealed that 50 of those jobs were for people who already worked for BP and lived in the area. Critics said it was “a classic case of getting paid for doing what you’re going to do anyway.”

This is a Think Progress cross-post.

10 Responses to Tar balls hit Texas, whose governor said the BP disaster was an ˜act of god

  1. catman306 says:

    God made man.
    Man made BP.
    BP spilt oil in the Gulf.
    Therefore: the oil spill is an act of God.

    Do you see how easy it is to think like a Governor? You too could be a Governor. Just talk up some spin that some very influential and wealthy people like hearing. Loudly and frequently. They’ll take care of getting you elected.

  2. Lars smith says:

    Energy Secretary Chu Claimed BP will Help Save World

  3. Bruce says:

    Act of God? When God acts, he or she is usually trying to tell you to stop doing something.

  4. mike roddy says:

    The oal bidness is king in Texas, and that won’t change.

    There was a story in the New York Times the other day about how Democrats shouldn’t be too hard on the oil industry because some of their Democratic Congressmen in oil districts (as in Texas) would then lose to the Republicans. That would be a good thing, since Democrats in Texas are hard to distinguish from Republicans anyway. Let the Republicans be known as the champion of any polluter who pays, especially a big oil company. The Democrats have been handed an issue, and it’s time to step up.

    A Harry Truman type of Democrat could beat Perry in Texas. They’re getting sick of his idiotic pandering and strutting all the time.

  5. Rick Covert says:


    I hope your boss gets in. Perry’s grandstanding and pontification reminds me of another Texas Governor who said that the oil well blow out in the gulf was “…much ado about nothing.” That was former single term Governor Bill Clements commenting on the 1979 Ixtox I well blow out disaster in the Bay of Campeche in southern Mexico. I remember staying off the beach when the oil hit Texas back then. Let’s see how long that “act of god” thing works out for him.

  6. Whatshisname says:

    I am beginning feel as if I am speaking to some future race of explorers who stumble across Earth and wonder what happened to the place. So let me simply say that during the latter 20th Century people along and near the Texas Coast stopped dying of natural causes. For example, I just got to know a lifelong coastal resident with otherwise normal risk factors who has survived three different forms of cancer which have left him horribly disfigured. He is now fighting for his life against a fourth, almost unheard-of form of cancer. He is only 58 years old.

    Every time I go back someone I met only the visit before has died of cancer — sometimes two forms — and/or unrelated organ failure(s). After 20-plus years there have been so many that I can’t remember them all, but I do know they didn’t deserve this.

    However, let it be known that on this date, Gov. Rick Perry formed a committee. Can’t remember the name of it or what it is supposed to do, but they say they are going to have a meeting sometime.

  7. Leland Palmer says:

    I’m a lot more worried about the benzene and other aromatics coming from the spill than I am about the tar balls.

    The tar balls have been stripped of all their volatile components, which went into the air or the water.

    Benzene is a carcinogen, and levels of benzene in the air have gone above 3000 ppb in some areas. Workplace safe levels are lower, on the order of 1000 ppb for an eight hour day.

    Gasoline we buy a the pump has had the aromatic ring compounds like benzene cracked into much safer and less toxic linear chain compounds. I used to work in an environmental lab that tested gasoline for BTEX (Benzene, Toluene, Ethylbenzene, and the Xylenes). Levels in gasoline spill samples were generally quite low, on the order of a few parts per billion.

    One day we got in some samples of soil contaminated with gasoline from Mexico. The levels of benzene and other aromatic compounds in these samples were many times higher than those we generally saw. Apparently, this gasoline had not had its ring compounds cracked into chain compounds like American gasoline.

    The oil spilling into the gulf has never seen the inside of an oil refinery, of course, and appears to be very rich in ring compounds like benzene, judging from the air quality reports. The people doing the cleanup appear to be suffering from classic symptoms of breathing volatile organic compounds such as benzene.

    Benzene is a carcinogen, and causes genetic damage. It has been associated with leukemia.

    It’s no wonder that BP was willing to set up the 20 billion dollar escrow fund. Their legal liability from cancers caused by the benzene may be many times that. Some of the cancers caused by benzene are fairly rare in people not exposed to benzene, and are characteristic of benzene exposure, apparently.

    By the time that people in the gulf region develop these cancers, the escrow fund is likely to have been long since exhausted, IMO.

  8. mike roddy says:

    Whatshisname, #7:

    I suggest a movie called Blue Vinyl, available for free by googling it on the web. The author traveled to Louisiana to see how vinyl is made. Workers in Lake Charles, Louisiana petrochemical plants have incredibly high cancer rates. The lakes in the area have signs sticking out of them warning people to not eat the fish. The whole area looked like a Superfund site- kind of like the refinery region of coastal Texas that you described.

    EPA’s decisions about where to clean up are a matter of discretion, since there are more areas with contaminated soil than can be addressed administratively.

    My sense is that coastal Texas and petro plant Louisiana have been given quiet waivers as environmental sacrifice zones for the oil industry, due to pressure on DC by the oil industry. Had these problems been addressed earlier, it may not have led to making the whole Gulf a sacrifice zone now.

    A good investigative reporter needs to run with this, and sell the article to a major magazine that is not afraid- say, Rolling Stone (Mother Jones has too small a circulation).

    Thanks for your contribution. If I can think of someone to run with your information, I may be in touch- you can reach me at I know a few publishers, too.

  9. Jim Groom says:

    That idiots hair is an act of God. Too bad the fool has so many voters behind him.