Skip to main content

tv   PBS News Hour  PBS  July 28, 2010 3:00pm-4:00pm PDT

3:00 pm
captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions >> lehrer: good evening. i'm jim lehrer. a federal judge in arizona today blocked key parts of the state's tough immigration law from taking effect. >> ifill: and i'm gwen ifill. on the "newshour" tonight, ray suarez reports from the state capitol in phoenix. and we explore the national fallout. >> lehrer: then judy woodruff takes an extended look at pakistan. she talks to pakistan's u.s. ambassador about the airliner crash that killed 152 people, and she examines u.s./pakistani relations after the leak of thousands of secret military documents. >> ifill: we ask environmental engineer nancy kinner to track
3:01 pm
what's happened to the oil in the water. 100 days after the gulf disaster. >> lehrer: and spencer michels tells the story of a one-man mission to help clean up the oil in louisiana. >> a private individual has taken it upon himself to try to protect the barrier islands in the gulf of mexico. >> lehrer: that's all ahead on tonight's "newshour." major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by:
3:02 pm
>> this is the engine that zero emission technologies to breathing a little easier, while taking 4.6 million truckloads off the road every year. bnsf, the engine that connects us. and the william and flora hewlett foundation, working to solve social and environmental problems at home and around the world. and with the ongoing support of these institutions and foundations. and... this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> ifill: arizona's tough immigration law would have empowered local law enforcement to check the immigration status of anyone they reasonably suspect was in the u.s.
3:03 pm
illegally, even if they were detained on unrelated charges. but a federal judge ruled today the state was, in effect, usurping, the federal government's role. ray suarez has been reporting the story from phoenix, and he joins us now. >> good talk to you. all during the week pressure was mounting. people on both sides of the question were waiting for thursday to test the proposition. could a law like this be enforced in the state of arizona without pre-empting power and without abusing the civil rights of the people of arizona and on different sides of the question, you got all different answers. the whisper date for actions from the federal court judge in this case, suzanne bolton had been yesterday and there were rumors running through phoenix that she was going to rule that certain parts of the law would not go into effect tonight in nine hours.
3:04 pm
well, what happened was a little surprising on all counts. there are several key provisions of the bill that will not take effect at 12:01 a.m., mountain standard time here in phoenix and they are specifically the requirement that an officer ascertain the immigration status of someone he encounters while enforcing other laws, even if it's found that the first cause, the traffic stop, the investigation of an assault in progress turns out not to be an actual bonafied crime he still must check on the immigration status. that won't go into effect. creating a crime in arizona to not carry immigration documents will not go into effect. creating a crime for someone living in the country illlegally to look for or perform employment will not take effect. these and other provisions were identified by judge bolton as those that would likely be
3:05 pm
struck down on later appeals in other parts of the federal court system. so she did not want them to take effect but interestingly several other parts of the law will be come into force in nine hours and they include arizona laws, cracking down on employers who solicit, hire and pay people who are living in the country illlegally. arizona laws regarding the seizure and forefeiture of vehicles used to transport illlegal immigrants around the state and laws that attempt to crackdown on the solicitation of work by day-labors in the public street. it's a mixed bag for people who are oep opponents of the bill. >> ifill: to what extent is the proximity in the violence in mexico driven the debate here and anxiety? >> people who support and oppose this law, you can't get more
3:06 pm
than a minute or two minutes into a conversation with them before they allude to what's going on just over the border from arizona. people are very well aware of it and people are very well aware of the human traffic flowing over the arizona-mexico border across some of the most inhospitable landscapes the land has to offer. the people dying and being picked up close to death by officials in some of those rural counties. people on both sides of the question are aware that arizona has a problem and challenge with illlegal immigration but differ on how to address it. >> ifill: this was a state law was there a sense this would become such a national issue in enacting the law? >> i talked to the majority leader of the state house of represents and he told me he was stunned this has gotten the kind of play it's gotten in other
3:07 pm
parts of the country. he was shocked it's gotten the attention from other legislatures and said the earth is not going shift under our feet. the sun is still going to come up when it takes effect. he was shocked because arizona has already been moving the ball downfield addressing internal laws regarding people living and working in the country illlegally and had not been challenged and upheld and assumed it would get the same treatment. he's surprised but not backing off on the support of the law. >> ifill: does this break down there the way it does in washington among conventional-conservative lines? >> you would think you were talking about two different states, two different countries and two different laws as you spoke to people who were looking
3:08 pm
at this shared landscape from their different vantage points. for immigrants there was no question that this was going to lead to racial profiling. that there was no way to enforce the law without using racial profiling as a tool in making those inquiries about someone's immigration status and for supporters of the law they referred to the training that local law enforcement had gotten and experience in previous years in working with official and enforcing federal law and said the things that were being threatened and being speculated about not going happen but again, gwen, have to stress one of the most fascinating parts of the story is how diametricly opposed it was among people who staked out their territory. >> ifill: we'll talk more about that right now because arizona governor jan brewer signed the immigration law in april and
3:09 pm
conceded today's ruling with y setback but said the state they would appeal it all the way to the superior court. >> until i get my arms around it we don't know where we are going to do. we knew regardless of what happened today that one side or the other side would appeal and this just begins the process. >> ifill: for more on the impact of today's ruling we turn to two experts in immigration law. michael hefman is general council for the immigration refarm law and steven gonzalez teaches at the immigration school of law. were you happy with today's ruling? >>i think so. i think the plaintiffs and department of justice got everything they wanted of justice and as i said previously on the show there were serious threshold constitutional issues about the state interfearing in federal power that have
3:10 pm
long-term consequences so i ink the judge made the right call. >> ifill: michael? >> i'm relieved as one of the attorneys that was part of the senator's braintrust that worked on the issues over the years. it could have been worse. we could have this a radical jump judge but almost all points were technical and it would be very easy to fix. as a matter of fact, i was down in virginia meeting with virginia legislators on how to do their version of sb-1070 when they got the bill and it was a sad face when the order came off the machine worked on it provision by provision and were relieved. >> ifill: when judge bolten said the state overstepped it's authority you think it's a tech
3:11 pm
technicality. >> she gave them a b-minus and spelled out the technical items needed to address 75% of the problems she identified in the bill. it's not going to go first to appeal or to the supreme court, it's going to go back to the state legislature and they're going to make these technical amendments and it's going to be an improved and better bill that faces judicial scrutiny. >> ifill: professor gonzalez, is that what happens next in your point of view? >> i have a completely different tame and looking at it and the opinion the points follow along two lines, two columns, if you will. pretty much in which the state tried to get involved in regulation of immigration the judge said no, no, you can't do that. that's federal power. the things that the judge upheld had to do with the state regulating employers and other
3:12 pm
traditional areas in which states have always been involved in. if you look at it that way it looks to me very clear that the federal courts here are at least at the trial level so far have struck down this law. i think it's left toothless. it's pretty much -- i would agree it probably needs to be rewritten for those who support it but that's because it was completely decimated by this decision. >> ifill: you heard michael hefman say states with other versions don't feel deterred by this. do you think it drives all the other states and shuts down their efforts to try to copy what arizona did? >> well, i think it's certainly a game-changer. from a strict legal technical standpoint the value is not binding in other jurs jurisdictions about the any state looking to
3:13 pm
press legislation like arizona's has to think twice now there's a federal court saying it's unconstitutional. >> ifill: judge brewer said the federal government needs to step up their game at the border. did the judge speak to that in your reading of her ruling? >> sure, right in the very first line of the ruling it says against the backdrop of rampant illlegal immigration and trafficking crimes and arizona legislature acted and i think she shares the concerns of the state of arizona and wants to make sure the law in it's final form will be fully constitutional in federalism. >> ifill: is there room for the state to rewrite the law or the federal government to step in and press stronger law. which would you like to see happen? >>
3:14 pm
comprehensivence enforcement will have to act at the federal level and they're not acting so until they change their game plan you'll see more state measures and i think they'll be effective in a limited sort of way but still effective. >> ifill: professor does this take the stakes off the table or up to the federal government to step in? >> i would like to say that the federal will now step forward and do what it needs to do but the reality is congress and its successive administrations in the white house have been paralyzed but they're just reflecting the polarization of americans on this topic. so i think until we get some strong consensus on which way to go, i'm not too optimistic particularly in an election year and with the federal court standing in the way like an umpire blowing the whistle and saying foul, i think it will put
3:15 pm
a problem in with some states of think are doing and don't forget the states themselves are divided too. not all states are doing this. some have strong majorities that feel the other way. >> ifill: was that foul? was a whistle blown today, mr. hefman? >> it wasn't a whistle blown. i think arizona got back their midterm example and i think they're already planning. >> ifill: michael hef heffan and steven gonzalez. thank you very much. >> lehrer: still to come on the "newshour": u.s./pakistani relations; the oil in the gulf and a man on a mission. but first, the other news of the day. here's hari sreenivasan in our newsroom. >> sreenivasan: a bus packed with passengers t a roadside bomb in southern afghanistan today, killing 25 people. 20 others were wounded. the bus was blown up as it drove through nimroz province on a
3:16 pm
main highway to kabul. meanwhile, nato reported a u.s. service member was killed yesterday in the south. 59 americans have died this month. a record 60 were killed in june. the budget crunch in california is going to hit state workers again. california governor arnold schwarzenegger today ordered a new round of furloughs starting august first. he said state employees will have to take three unpaid days off every month, until the legislature adopts a budget. last year, they piled up 46 days in furloughs-- in effect, a 14% pay cut. the justice department is investigating whether fbi agents cheated on a test about surveillance rules. the associated press reported that the department's inspector general has received allegations that hundreds of agents were involved. but at a senate hearing, fbi director robert mueller said the number is unclear. >> i do not know how many. and i'm not certain that i.g. knows how many either. he's put out instances, or pointed out instances early to me where they may be persons in a particular office where it was widespread and may be attributable to a lack of
3:17 pm
understanding and confusion about the procedures. >> sreenivasan: the allegations include claims that agents took the test in groups instead of alone, in violation of the rules. others may have printed copies of the test ahead of time. congress will narrow the huge gap between jail time for crack cocaine and powdered cocaine. the current law-- enacted in 1986-- gives someone with five grams of crack the same punishment as someone carrying 100 times that amount in powdered form. the house voted today to cut the ratio to 18 to 1. the senate had already done so. over the years, black defendants have accounted for most crack convictions and ended up serving far more time than whites. wall street ended its four-day winning streak, after new reports showing the economy has slowed. the dow jones industrial average lost more than 39 points to close under 10,498. the nasdaq fell 23 points to close at 2,264. parts of china braced for more rain today, adding to a national flood disaster. nearly 1,000 people have died in the floods this year. today, thousands more were
3:18 pm
trapped by rivers in the northeast. in the south, recent downpours caused the yangtze river to rise ever higher. the water submerged much of the shoreline. the huge three gorges dam on the yangtze was near its capacity. it was designed to end centuries of devastating floods. catalonia has become the first major region in spain to outlaw bullfighting, effective 2012. the local legislature in barcelona approved the ban today. it followed an emotional debate between animal rights advocates and those wanting to preserve the centuries-old tradition. the ban in this region is largely symbolic. catalonia has just one functioning bullring. it stages 15 fights a year, compared with nearly 1,000 across spain as a whole. those are some of the day's major stories. now, back to jim. >> lehrer: and to pakistan, where an airliner crashed today killing all 152 people on board, including two americans. the tragedy momentarily shifted the focus from new tensions created by the leak of afghan
3:19 pm
war documents. "newshour" correspondent kwame holman begins our coverage. >> reporter: it was the worst air disaster ever in pakistan. the airblue plane went down in the hills overlooking islamabad and scattered wreckage and passengers' bodies across the rugged area. >> we did not find any intact bodies. we found pieces under the wreckage. we put the body parts in bags. the recovery operation has almost been completed. >> reporter: officials of the airline said the airbus a321 was no more than eight years old and did not appear to have any mechanical problems. >> maintenance was done regularly, like i said, there was nothing wrong technically with the aircraft. of course, when the investigation will take place, they will get to know what all happened, but right now, i don't think we should get into speculations as such. >> reporter: in washington, the special representative for afghanistan and pakistan, richard holbrooke, spoke at a u.s. house hearing. >> i understand from our embassy
3:20 pm
in islamabad that the smoke is visible throughout the city. we hear there's going to be a national day of mourning, there are apparently two americans who were on that plane, and i just want to express on behalf of the u.s. government the administration our deep condolences. >> reporter: holbrooke then turned to the issue that's dominated the week in washington-- the leak of 91,000 secret u.s. military documents on the war in afghanistan. >> first of all, the leaks themselves are pretty appalling. and for somebody like myself who has been in and out of the government for over 40 years, in fact, an author of one of the volumes of the pentagon papers, i just find it inexplicable that somebody would take the oath of office of the united states and violate it in such an extraordinary way. >> reporter: other top u.s. officials have warned the documents may place american operatives inside afghanistan
3:21 pm
and pakistan in danger. and some of the disclosures put the u.s. relationship with pakistan back in the spotlight. in particular, the leaks raised new questions about links between the taliban and pakistan's intelligence service, the i.s.i. a former head of the agency insisted this week the documents were made up. >> all this is fictional, there is no truth in it, all the allegations that have been leveled against me. it only depicts the intelligence failure on part of america and whoever else. >> reporter: but the issue came up at u.s. congressional hearings this week. >> the wikileaks controversy has reopened charges that elements of pakistani military and intelligence services are playing both ends of the fight in afghanistan. but this should not be surprising especially when we are sounding an uncertain trumpet about our own commitment. >> reporter: just last week, secretary of state hillary clinton tried to bolster that commitment in pakistan with a new pledge of $500 million in
3:22 pm
aid. back at today's house hearing, special representative holbrooke insisted u.s. policy remains firm, despite the wikileaks furor. >> there is nothing in these documents most of which date way back into the previous administration that change-- that should change anyone's judgment about the situation in afghanistan and pakistan. >> reporter: and in afghanistan today a nato spokesman echoed that sentiment. >> let me assure you this unfortunate event will not impact our ongoing commitment to deepen our partnership with afghanistan and pakistan. >> reporter: as for the source >> lehrer: judy woodruff takes the pakistan story from there. >> woodruff: i talked with the pakistani ambassador to the united states, hasain haqqani, a short while ago.
3:23 pm
>> woodruff: mr. ambassador thank you for talking with us. >> pleasure to be with you. >> woodruff: first the plane crash in pakistan. our condolences to everyone involved. >> there are assumptions they're going to investigate the tragic incident, 154 lives lost. the nation is in mourning. >> woodruff: is there any evidence at all that there was sabotage or te terrorism involved. >> so far nothing indicated. >> woodruff: the wikileaks and documents and other things that information there's been ongoing
3:24 pm
support by the pakistani intelligenc intelligenc intelligence services of the afghan taliban. how do you respond? >> not all the documents are what they are made out to be. there are the first draft and first report so in the field and many people come and report many things, they don't always fan out. some are saying i see people on the other side of the border and the military investigates and finds that's not happening. what we are looking at is raw information. that said, the government of pakistan maintains that these whatever the statements are being made by some and some media on the reports about pakistan do not reflect current on-ground realities. >> woodruff: what about the role of retired intelligence officials.
3:25 pm
one we heard from general goule. what do you know about the involvement of any retired or current pakistani intelligence officials involved in supporting the taliban in afghanistan? >> firstly, anyone who retires from our military or intelligence services is like any other retired person. they stop working for the government officially unless they get a contract provision some where. the general you've mentioned has not been in any government position for 20 years. he's not been working in our intelligence services. now do people sometimes or is it possible that some people use their connections built during government and in the private sector, it's possible and some people in the past have been detained and some put on trial for doing that.
3:26 pm
the thing is the government of pakistan would not want and would not allow anyone who sthefshd government before but now want to break our laws to do that. >> woodruff: so it's illlegal in your country but some of it's going on. >> i'm sure there are things going on in the united states too but the government of pakistan as it established its writ all over the country makes sure people serving or retired and not in government, none of them break our laws. look, the war against terrorism is our war. we've lost a lot of people in the war. our leader benazir bhutto was lost in the war and on average pakistani loses ten soldiers a day fighting the terrorisms since the beginning of 2008. there's no interest on the part of pakistan to allow the terrorists to succeed and anyone
3:27 pm
who abets the enemy is our terrorism. >> woodruff: what about things going on up your military not in the control of the government. >> i'm someone who's taught political science and international science and history too and i look forward to going back to that some day. i think what we're trying to do in pakistan right now is to develop a new orientation and our military service and leaders are working together and the past starts around 1979 when the u.s. went in to support the mujhhadin against the soviet. let's not get into the history. what we're trying to do is change the future and we don't want the taliban who do na do nt the women
3:28 pm
educated or want the generation to not join the rest of the world we are fighting them. >> woodruff: the very strained relations pakistan has with india, ongoing tensions between the countries and every analyst one talks to who has not taken sides believes clearly pakistan is using in many ways quietly, is using the afghan taliban as a way to counter the influence of india in afghanistan. >> we have been concern and very honest about it. we are concerned about indian military or intelligence present in afghanistan if it threatens our national security. we don't want that. what would the united states have taught if the russians had a base in mexico during the cold war. we're working it out and president karzai have met and our military leaders have met
3:29 pm
and we're working our differences out with india as well. there are outstanding disputes there. disputes on which we still we think we have a stance indians have not paid attention to but we'll work it out and our vision for our region is not one of perpetual conflict and don't want to prolong conflict in our part of the world. >> woodruff: how do the wikileaked documents affect the united states. >> those that deal with us on a daily basis know that we are doing things to built trust. our intelligence service and the u.s. intelligencintelligence services are working closely together now, much more than before. when our dictator was in power in pakistan a lot has eroded. it's a work in progress but i think pakistan and u.s. are closer today from the period
3:30 pm
from the period which the documents come from. >> woodruff: the ambassador to the united states, hassain haqqani. >> thank you. for more on what the leaked documents reveal about the pakistani government's relationship is with the taliban and what they might mean for relations with the united states, we get two views. stephen cohen is a senior fellow at the brookings institution and the author of numerous books about pakistan, india and south asia. and shuja nawaz is the director of the south east asia center at the atlantic council. he's a former journalist and author of a book about the pakistani military. >> good to be here. >> woodruff: what about what the ambassador said between pakistan and united states government are improving despite the episode. >> i think they're getting better. you have a government in pakistan the best they've had. that's not saying much because
3:31 pm
it's a country coming apart at the seams but i think there's close cooperation between the two countries an in afghanistan and pakistan and that's an important point. >> woodruff: when he says the government of pakistan is not officially in any way supporting or aiding the afghan taliban, what about that? >> i think whether the government of the pakistan is capable of not supporting the taliban and what i call the isi alumni association. i think the government may not have the capacity to stop the taliban and don't have an interest in stopping and it supporting the americans and supporting the taliban. they want to make sure when there's a peace agreement their interest is protected. >> woodruff: the ambassador said there's no official report but acknowledged there may be private interest supporting. how do you square the two
3:32 pm
things? >> well, it's always existed that way in pakistan. there is as steve said what he calls the alumni association and isi officials group as well as the other militant groups that have made arrangements with al-qaida and the taliban. they serve their turn and they provide assistance to them. >> woodruff: does it give them the ability to deny the support? >> there's no evidence of official support and the government would not wish to be involved in a activities but th question is can they prevent the activities from taking place which means effectively sealing the board between the tribal area and pakistan which is a very difficult task at best. >> woodruff: we did hear the ambassador say they view them as
3:33 pm
illlegal and gone after people engaged. >> it's up to the capacity to stop them and police can't do about them and in northwest frontier it's wilder and they lost the capacity to enforce their own law. he compared it to the united states, maybe 50 years ago but not america now. >> woodruff: is it getting better as he said? >> i think it's a work in progress. i think at the top the work is there the president of pakistan and all want change and the military want to change but whether they can turn the ship is like moving an occasio oceane have trouble ourselves and pakistan has less capacity more than any other state in the region. >> woodruff: help us understand the threat pakistan feels from india versus the threat it feels
3:34 pm
from the taliban and what may be left after the united states leav afghanistan. >> i think the indian capacity on pakistan's eastern border is always the one that threatens pakistan. something like 30 strike airfieldstown pakistan and i think in the recen recent recen insurgency is increasedly recognized by the military and the politicians. within the last 18 months the military has transformed itself from a conventional force into a facial effective counter-insurgency force. the training and the operations and the fact that they're committed something like 150,000 troops to the insurgency is evidence of their commitment. >> woodruff: but connect the dots from that, if you would,
3:35 pm
from the taliban in afghanistan. >> the one taliban as steve said represents more support for the paktun element and we have to recall the taliban paktun and because the tribes straddle the border they receive support from inside pakistan and so there is and always has been a kind of implicit support for the paqtun movement. >> woodruff: how does all this complicate what the united states is trying to do in afghanistan? >> well, half of us are fighting the war in afghanistan and there's consideration of the impact of the war in afghanistan and pakistan. in my own view is pakistan's the more important of the two in the long run. that's a nuclear weapons states and afghanistan will always have
3:36 pm
its problem and pakistan is a more serious problem and we're bi-polar disorder with the agencies dealing with pakistan and india for example. i don't think we have a regional approach to the reege. . we don't have an integrated approach. >> woodruff: do you think the wikileaked documents in the last few days, what's they're bearing on that? >> i think they're irrelevant but they'll drive policymakers to stop putting things on paper and harder to establish a record of what was done. anytime the government has the leaks it closes and there will be more verbal communication rather than writte written communication. >> woodruff: how do you see the leaks? >> i think they add noise and confusion to the dialog and despite the best efforts of policymakers in the u.s. and pakistan to stay committed to the current parts which is that
3:37 pm
of collaboration and cooperation, there will be a lot of internal second-guessing. there will be a lot of soul searching and seeing whether they've in fact connected all the dots and is one side being duplicitous or the other being duplicitous. >> woodruff: is there anything the united states can do to counter what you've just described? >> i think the u.s. needs to stay the course. the fact that it is now providing long-term assistance to pakistan, once it starts arriving it will convince the people they're support the region. that's critical. >> i'm less concerned about pakistani and more concerned about the pakistani state. i don't care if they hated us as long as they're able to run their own business. >> woodruff: tough questions.
3:38 pm
steve cohen, shooi >> lehrer: now to the gulf coast, where the oil is no longer spewing. we have two takes. the first about what's happening to the oil that's already in the water. it's been 100 days since the deepwater horizon rig exploded; killing 11 workers; fouling the gulf of mexico and leaving wildlife to an oily fate. a temporary cap on the gushing well finally halted the flow of crude two weeks ago. and now, signs of oil on the surface have been greatly reduced. as these images illustrate, at the end of june, crude covered thousands of square miles of the gulf's waters. by this week, the remaining oil appeared only in small patches. mike sutcliffe flew over the gulf on tuesday, sizing up the situation for b.p.
3:39 pm
>> at this point in time going over the source i actually didn't see any sheen whatsoever. >> lehrer: but in louisiana st. bernard parish president craig taffaro and others insist it's far too early to relax. >> are they trying to say this is over? i mean, are they that stupid? it took six weeks from when it first started leaking to come ashore and now they stopped it last week so it's over? >> lehrer: before it was capped, the well spewed 94 million to 184 million gallons of oil, and coated more than 600 miles of coastline. b.p.'s cleanup operation has skimmed about 35 million gallons of oily water and burned off another 11 million gallons. an unknown amount remains suspended, below the surface. and many marine scientists worry about that. >> there's a lot of dispersed oil in the water, and that stuff could end up in the food web. >> lehrer: in the meantime, entire communities that depend on fishing and tourism remain idled. >> who'd have thought that 100 days of an oil spill would, you
3:40 pm
know, really kind of put us in a situation that after 100 years of business, you know, we're worried about what's going on. >> lehrer: b.p. announced today it has paid out more than $250 million in damage claims so far. the company also hopes to try a so-called static kill next week to plug the ruptured well once and for all. once the well is plugged, the newly named c.e.o. of b.p., bob dudley, vows the cleanup will go on, as long as it takes. we get more now from nancy kinner. she's a professor and director of the coastal response research center at the university of new hampshire. she's worked closely with the government since the spill. >> lehrer: welcome. >> thank you. >> lehrer: where has all that oil gone? >> it's weathered basically so some of it evaporates the lighter molecules in there go up into the air and then what's
3:41 pm
left starts to be biodegraded by naturally occurring microorganisms and the remaining fractions stay together and you get the tarry substances and some is still under the water dissolved as droplets. >> lehrer: do you agree that roughly 40% of the oil that was part of the spill is now gone? >> yeah, just with evaporation alone you can lose 35% or so of the oil that reaches the surface up into the air so yes, it's quite possible. >> lehrer: and this is just a natural process. >> that's called weathering. it's a process you see in all oil spills and in the gulf it's warmer temperatures so it happens at a faster rate >> lehrer: why is that? >> if you're going to evaporate something and it's a warm temperature it evaporates
3:42 pm
faster. biodegradation work faster at warmer temperatures. all the processes are accelerated. >> lehrer: does anything go up in the air as they're disintegrated. >> they tend to evaporate like when your at the gas station and pump gas into your car and there's the vapors. it's to kind of think but not to that extent. >> lehrer: is there an environmental problem there poluting the air? >> yes, there is. some of that will break down as does any kind of release from combustion engines see the break down from the white rays from the sun help break it down, etcetera. but epa has been monitoring to see those concentrations are at acceptable level levels. >> lehrer: one of the folks in
3:43 pm
the set up piece said there's not a sheen any more. that's a good thing, right? >> yes >> lehrer: and you can see it with the naked eye but for you what does that mean? >> it's all part of the weathering process and the thing we have to remember is for 90-plus days there was a major spill basically day after day after day and now a couple weeks later we haven't had that spill and these natural processes are occurred and tried to catch up with the release. >> lehrer: the dispertants, the chemicals put in, are they still being used? >> they're not being used because you don't have the oil coming out of the well any more so and once the oil against weathered the dispersants don't work very well. >> lehrer: there are reports that much of the oil sunk to the bottom. is that true? >> i don't think we have all the data in yet but i think most of the data shows that the -- well, oil came out of the well and
3:44 pm
when they added the dispersants there, that broke the oil into little droplets and that oil stayed under the surface, most of it stayed under the surface and some fraction of it came to the surface. >> lehrer: what about the stuff that's still in there? just a matter of time before it goes away on its own? >> what's happening again is a weathering process but you don't have evaporation down there because it's colder and can't go into the air but biodegradation is occurring and some of the data from the cruising vessels out there show biodegradation is occurring and the natural dilution process. >> lehrer: is there any way to authoritatively predict what's going do happen and how long it's going take to get rid of the rest of this oil? >> i think we're going to have to keep monitoring and we're going to have to really look at
3:45 pm
the organisms themselves to see -- >> lehrer: how does it affect the organisms? >> they're tiny organisms and you can't see them with the naked eye -- >> lehrer: oh, you can't? >> not breaking down with the oil and they're tiny and live naturally in the ocean and used to having some amount of hydrocarbons because the gulf has natural seeps of oil and they use that oil the compounds in the oil as a food source just like we eat hamburgers, for example, and use oxygen to breathe into degrade it, they're using the organics in the oil and using oxygen from the water. >> lehrer: as an expert, are you optimistic and i know there's oil on shore, that's a different thing.
3:46 pm
but the oil in the water, what's your level of optomism it will eventually go away and how long it will take. >> i think it will weather and we'll lows lose a large percentage to weathering and the heavier fractions, the tarry fractions will stay for a long time. >> lehrer: months to years? >> months to years, yes. and what i don't think we know is what the effect will be on the organisms themselves and we have to look into that. >> lehrer: what's left behind? >> what i have they've come in contact with over the period of time and will it affect their genetic material and metabolism and those are longer studies. >> lehrer: and the ecosystem. >> thank you very much.
3:47 pm
>> ifill: even as the cleanup continues, plenty of oil can still be found along the shorelines, beaches and marshes of the gulf. "newshour" correspondent spencer michels reports from buras, louisiana on one man's effort to help. >> reporter: tad agoglia is on a mission-- and it's to clean up and protect parts of the damaged gulf on his own. >> this oil needs to be picked up and this needs to get done and it needs to be done immediately. because as you can see if the tide is as strong it'll go into all these wetlands, it'll destroy the grasses. >> reporter: agoglia, who runs a non profit called first response team, acknowledges there are plenty of others doing their part. nearly every morning, just past sun up, hundreds of gulf residents show up at marinas along the coast, and board flotillas of small boats. 13,000 individuals are part of this civilian army; paid by b.p. to tend to booms that protect the shoreline from oil, among other tasks.
3:48 pm
the coast guard keeps an eye on the workers and the contractors. >> we're trying to protect one of the largest oyster beds in louisiana, you keep the oil out of here, protect these fishermen's lives, livelihood. >> reporter: workers also patrol the 637 miles of beaches where oil has washed up, picking up tar balls and larger globs of oil. b.p. has created television commercials aimed at convincing americans that it is doing a thorough and expensive job of repairing the damage. >> every morning over 50 spotter planes and helicopters take off and search for the oil. almost 6,000 vessels. we can't keep all the oil from coming ashore, but i'm doing everything i can to stop it. >> reporter: but agoglia, a 34- year-old new york native, believes b.p. and companies it has hired need help, and he's the one to do it.
3:49 pm
first response team, which he founded and funded, is designed to help in disasters. he and his seven-person crew and their array of equipment arrived here by barge 41 days after the deepwater horizon explosion, before the oil hit the beaches and the official cleanup effort began. government and b.p. officials know he's here; sometimes they work with him and his equipment. >> reporter: but essentially >> reporter: but essentially they leave him alone to fight the oil that threatens to destroy the barrier islands south of new orleans. the barrier islands were build decades ago to protect the marshlands and the fishing areas. these islands are home to birds and animals and they are at risk from heavy storms and now from oil.
3:50 pm
>> a lot of these grasses are beginning to die very quickly, and you can see all the oil mixed in with he root systems. this one has died, and there actually is a whole group of dolphins right over here, only 20 feet from where these grasses are full of oil, and that's heartbreaking to know how much wildlife is out here. >> reporter: agoglia is former seminary student, who studied for the priesthood but quit and got into the construction crane business where he made a lot of money. he's decided to use it to help out when needed. for the past seven years, the team has responded to dozens of natural disasters, including the earthquake in haiti. >> the team is very efficient because we have a staffing that most of them have been to over 30 disasters, and when you have that kind of experience of dealing with tornadoes, floods, wind storms, earthquakes, you
3:51 pm
begin to really know how to deal with these situations. >> reporter: as for the gulf disaster. >> we know something needed to be done immediately, and that's why we're here working every day. >> reporter: agoglia, who says he's no longer wealthy, has personally paid for most of first response's expenses, which amount to $900,000 a year. much of the equipment is donated by terex equipment company. >> an obvious question is why first response and tad agolgia are needed; why isn't the local fire department, or fema or the parish, or some other government agency doing the work of protecting these barrier islands? those groups are, of course, making an effort. but agoglia says he can do it faster and more efficiently, because he specializes in disasters. >> a local fire department is not often going to have a
3:52 pm
hovercraft or a crane with a special attachment to dissemble a home in ten minutes if it's in the middle of the road. so oftentimes i find that when these storms hit the communities, it oftentimes destroys their local resources so they don't even have the ability to help themselves. >> reporter: coast guard officer joe allen sees the value in groups like first response team. >> my personal feeling is i'm glad they're here. you know, all the help we can get, the better. >> reporter: and while it's rewarding, it takes its toll on agoglia and his pocketbook. >> i live in hotels, i live in very cheap hotels, most of the time. and that's my life, and trust me, it's not really how i want to live. but at this point, i don't have enough money for a home. i had to give that up to fund the work of the first response team. >> reporter: agoglia is used to dealing with life-threatening natural disasters. the gulf oil crisis is the first
3:53 pm
of its kind he has attacked. his small team works for low wages and for the satisfaction of doing good. 22-year-old tim wolkowicz says working with agoglia has changed his life. >> before i did this, i was a chef. i painted cars and i painted houses and it was work. i made money doing it, but there was never any satisfaction. with this job, i get to go all over the country, meet new people and i get to help people every day. >> reporter: wolkowicz and agoglia and the others are here for the long haul. and they think their presence and their approach are making a difference. >> i mean, it would be great if we have 100 people out here with garbage bags and rakes, but you can do the same thing with just five pieces of equipment and five men as you would do with a small army. >> reporter: while the large oil slicks are largely gone, tar balls and oil continues to wash up.
3:54 pm
so there's plenty for the first response team to do here, until they head out to their next disaster. >> lehrer: again, the major developments of the day: a federal judge blocked parts of arizona's new immigration law from taking effect tomorrow. a pakistani airliner crashed outside islamabad, killing all 152 people board. two were americans and 25 people died in southern afghanistan, when a packed bus hit a roadside bomb. the "newshour" is always online. hari sreenivasan, in our newsroom, previews what's there. hari? >> sreenivasan: there's more on the arizona immigration law ride-along with a police officer in the border town of nogales, as he describes the challenges for law enforcement in that area. and we follow up on the afghan document leak, we talk to raffi katchadourian of the new yorker about his recent profile of the wikileaks organization and its founder, julian assange. plus patchwork nation looks at what economic troubles in the suburbs may mean for democrats' prospects in the midterm
3:55 pm
election. all that and more is on our web site, newshour.pbs.org. gwen? >> ifill: and that's the "newshour" for tonight. on thursday, we'll turn our attention to the economy and whether government stimulus efforts are working. i'm gwen ifill. >> lehrer: and i'm jim lehrer. we'll see you on-line and again here tomorrow evening. thank you and good night. major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by:
3:56 pm
captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org
3:57 pm
3:58 pm
3:59 pm

198 Views

info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on