...from the French Quarter to New Orleans East, people here have been complaining about a tinge to the air that is unsettling even by local standards.
Many suspect that it has something to do with the oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, which has already leaked millions of gallons of crude about 50 miles off the Louisiana coast. The authorities involved in the cleanup of the fallen Deepwater Horizon oil rig have been burning oil on the surface of the gulf and using chemical dispersants around the leak.
Could New Orleans possibly be smelling that, from more than 100 miles away? Many say yes. But the mystery odor, which is stronger on some days and in some areas than others, is hard for residents to describe.
“It’s chemical, and I’m trying not to think about it,” said Raymond Dillon, a karate teacher.
Diana Mecera, a restaurant worker who lives in the French Quarter, said, “It’s a kind of a sewage smell.”
Her co-worker, Lauren Graham, a waitress, put it this way: “It’s more like being at a gas station.”
Steven Payne, who owns a men’s store and lives in the Marigny area, said: “It is very distinctly oil. When I smelled it for the first time, I was walking my dog along the Mississippi River levee...”
But what's a little spilled oil between friends?
...The federal Minerals Management Service gave permission to BP and dozens of other oil companies to drill in the Gulf of Mexico without first getting required permits from another agency that assesses threats to endangered species — and despite strong warnings from that agency about the impact the drilling was likely to have on the gulf.
Those approvals, federal records show, include one for the well drilled by the Deepwater Horizon rig, which exploded on April 20, killing 11 workers and resulting in thousands of barrels of oil spilling into the gulf each day.
The Minerals Management Service, or M.M.S., also routinely overruled its staff biologists and engineers who raised concerns about the safety and the environmental impact of certain drilling proposals in the gulf and in Alaska, according to a half-dozen current and former agency scientists...
I am sure that if the MMS can figure out who the current people that talked are they will soon be former.
They're winning hearts and minds, you know, and never mind the smell, it's air freshener. Would they lie to you?