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Kevin Costner is making a difference in the Gulf

Big Hollywood has details:

Hero of the Gulf? That's certainly what it's starting to look like. Not only has BP purchased 32 of actor Kevin Costner's oil/water separators but they've tested the hell out of them and seem legitimately amazed at how well they work.


If that's not reason enough to love the Oscar-winner, every time he speaks Costner's natural humility, refusal to grab the spotlight for himself, and obvious sincerity is readily apparent. Below are some quotes from the full news conference.  I especially like the first one -- the statement about how sometimes it just takes a regular guy with determination and a wrench to solve a problem. When's the last time you heard a movie star deliver a well-deserved nod of respect to the always impressive common sense and ingenuity of everyday people? Costner respects doers at least as much as he does the beard-scratchers.

I'd like to thank the men. I'd like to thank their wives. I know they've been working night and day on behalf of their state... So thank you guys for using your know-how because there's scientists and engineers everywhere and once in a while it just takes a guy with a wrench who's just gonna figure it out. That's what you guys represent."

"That's what this machine was intended for, to be a first line of defense against oil spills. It enabled us to protect an eco-system that cannot protect itself. We need oil ... but we need water more. We cannot allow oil to choke the life out of the waters which sustain our quality of life both here and around the world. We have to find a way to get a grip on oil. No one feels this more strongly right now than the men and women who have built their lives around the plentiful resources of the Gulf of Mexico. This machine was designed to fight for you."

A guy who obviously loves the environment and empathizes with the working man put 17 years and $20 million of his own dollars where his mouth is. And it wasn't just the technology he was fighting. This is a David vs. Goliath story if there ever was one.

Go read the rest, especially the David vs. Goliath angle.  No clearer evidence for bureaucratic idiocy exists.

H/T to Bookworm.


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Comments (19)

Upside: The separators can... (Below threshold)
James H:

Upside: The separators can filter oil from water. The downside: The contract specifies you have to watch Waterworld while it works.

Kudos to Costner.... (Below threshold)

Kudos to Costner.

I can live with that downsi... (Below threshold)

I can live with that downside, James H. I'd get a 4g phone, watch streaming movies while WaterWorld runs in the background with the sound off - where do I sign up to run the separator?

Perhaps I am mistaken, but ... (Below threshold)

Perhaps I am mistaken, but I had read about Costner's efforts to develop these devices long before the Gulf spill. Part of my recollection is that Costner essentially predicted that there would be a spill somewhere in the not-too-distant future and he wanted to help get ready for it. Furthermore, that his idea and his resolve came about as part his Waterworld experience.

If my recollections are right, Costner merits all the praise he'll ever get out of this, and more.

On another aspect - it's r... (Below threshold)

On another aspect - it's ridiculous that it's taking as long as it has to get this going. So it's not 'perfect' as defined by the EPA, we shouldn't use it?

It's a case of the bureaucratic process and mindless adherence to regulations being much more important than the actual results. It's a case where rabid adherence to regulation (which keeps the bureaucracies busy when there's no actual problem to deal with) becomes more important than dealing with the issues the bureacracy was actually designed to manage.

I'll admit that it's uncommon for something like this oil spill to come along, which shows clearly just how important is is for there to be both a critical capability to respond to a disaster of this magnitude AND the desire to implement the response swiftly.

We're seeing that one without the other is useless. We can spend millions/billions on oil mitigation strategies, but if they're never implemented the money is wasted.

The second paragraph in my ... (Below threshold)

The second paragraph in my post above was approved by the Department of Redundancy Department...

"It's a case of the bure... (Below threshold)

"It's a case of the bureaucratic process and mindless adherence to regulations ..."

Seems to me that "mindless adherance" to regulation BEFORE all this started would have been optimal.

(And JLawson - lol at #6)

Thanks, Oyster!'Mi... (Below threshold)

Thanks, Oyster!

'Mindless adherence' is one thing, sensible adherence is something else. The difficulty I see with pretty much any bureauracy is that there is never a reason to regulate LESS - instead the trend is to become more and more restrictive until whatever's been controlled fails.

Look at the IRS, for example - we've got a tax code that's so arcane at this point that even THEY won't guarantee the answers to questions they're asked, but it's marginally functional.

And the TSA? Hell, don't even go there...

In BP's case - adhering to their safety protocols would have been a damn good idea - but I'm waiting for an actual analysis of the accident before wheeling out the blamethrower and cranking it up. It may be the accident overwhelmed systems that would normally have been sufficient to contain the problem - we simply don't know.

What we DO know is when the oil hit the water, all the agencies in charge of actually DOING something about it found urgent reasons to avoid action. The failure is epic, and cannot be spun.

Doing the jobs the worst ad... (Below threshold)

Doing the jobs the worst administration evah wont do!

Good job Kev.

I think Mr Costner's foresi... (Below threshold)

I think Mr Costner's foresight, creativity, entrepreneurship and can-do attitude is not consistent with the Obama administration's long term vision of United States business.

I agree DaveD,It's... (Below threshold)

I agree DaveD,

It's actions of people like Kevin Costner that have always made America exceptional. Folks have a choice. You can wait for others to help you, or you can help yourself. There's a snippet or two about this in the Bible that many still cling to.

KC great job, now f the fed... (Below threshold)

KC great job, now f the feds will let the skimmers, barges and other equipment contain the oil we do better.

So when does Barry name Cos... (Below threshold)

So when does Barry name Costner's invention after himself? Maybe Kevin can now invent a translator for Barry's speeches. You know, separate the bull from the chaff.

Im sure Kevin will be 'blac... (Below threshold)

Im sure Kevin will be 'blacklisted' from any of Barry's beer summitt's for making ol' jugster look the fool & pathetically self serving as he is but so be it.

"So when does Barry name Costner's invention after himself? Maybe Kevin can now invent a translator for Barry's speeches. You know, separate the bull from the chaff."

All he has to do TO invent one is venture down to the southside and pick up a shuck-n-jive hustler to translate Barry's B.S.

Not trying to be a party po... (Below threshold)

Not trying to be a party pooper, but does anyone know how they work? I have assumed that they are high volume centrifuges. If so, then why is everyone going on about them? Folks in the oil industry have used centrifuges for a long time to separate oil. The problems with them are two fold: High capacity centrifuges take tremendous amounts of power to operate and they most likely can't produce the low hydrocarbon levels required by EPA to discharge the water.

Don't get me wrong, the problem here is with EPA requirements for discharge from skimmers. In a spill event if you can skim 70% of the hydrocarbon before discharging the water you are way ahead of not skimming any oil at all. EPA uses the mindset of water plant permitted discharge instead of treating spills as one time events.

I think it great that Mr. Costner is trying hard and possibly has something good, but if I was betting, the Dutch super skimmers are likely to be far more effective and efficient, even if they only recover 99.5% of the oil.

Kevin Costner took a risk w... (Below threshold)

Kevin Costner took a risk when he sunk a significant amount of his own time and money into the development of a device that he considered an unfulfilled need. He tied his efforts to his passion for the environment.

That's a good description of a capitalist pursuing a dream. He not only will have the satisfaction of making a difference in this world, but he will and should be financially rewarded for his efforts. Not only that, the jobs that can be created or will be TRULY SAVE in the gulf are an enormous contribution to our economy.

He and his team deserve all the praise and credit directed their way.

KUDO's to Kevin's brother. ... (Below threshold)
Tina S:

KUDO's to Kevin's brother. We often hear about how the siblings of famous actors not making much of their own life.

BP is purchasing 32 of th... (Below threshold)

BP is purchasing 32 of these devices so this wasnt a donation to them. I agree kudos to Kevin's brother. It is nice to see all avenues locally and internationally assisting as well.

I cant help but wonder i... (Below threshold)

I cant help but wonder if KC has political ambitions






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