2010/05/14

Latest updates on BP oil blow-out

Unfortunately, when it comes to the British Petroleum (BP) oil blow-out in the Gulf of Mexico, the one phrase that keeps coming to my mind is the title of the UCMJ charge (Article 92) "Dereliction of Duty." (Frankly, if America were to settle on a single phrase with which to sum up the years of the younger George Bush, that's my nomination) The latest news makes it clear that, sure enough, there was massive failure due to dereliction on the part of regulators. As Stephen Lendman in PhillyIMC puts it:

-- since 2001, 69 deaths and 1,349 injuries have occurred from Gulf drilling operations as a result of 858 fires and explosions on 90 big rigs and 3,500 production platforms;

-- the US Minerals Management Service (MMS) issued 150 reports "documenting non-compliant offshore drilling operations;"

-- 172 Gulf spills exceeding 2,100 gallons have occurred in the past decade;

*snip*

On May 5, Public Citizen's Tyson Slocum reported that BP has "the worst safety and environmental record of any oil company operating in America." In recent years alone, it pled guilty to two crimes (among many), paying over $730 million in fines and settlements to the federal and state governments and civil lawsuits for "environmental crimes, willful neglect of worker safety rules, and penalties for manipulating energy markets."

Lendman cites a lengthy history of violations and the coziness between Barack Obama and BP going back many, many years. Personally, I see the Bush and Obama coziness with oil companies in general as being far more similar than they are different. Sure, Obama may have inherited a bad situation, but he wasn't inclined to do very much to change that situation. By the same token, Bush may have inherited a bad national security situation from Clinton, but there isn't the slightest shred of evidence that he did anything to affirmatively change that situation before 9/11.

So, can we blame Clinton for 9/11 or Bush for BPs appalling record of sloppy and derelict work? Negative. Both Bush and Obama are responsible for the problems on their watch as neither of them did anything to change the situations they inherited. There's no evidence that had either crisis occurred a year later, that the situation would have been any different as neither president was making any effort to change their respective situations.


Heh! President Obama is now planning to "get mad" about offshore drilling. Yeah, a bit late on that.


Does the BP oil spill equal "Obama's Katrina"? Uh, no. That's a truly stupid comparison as Obama's team was on top of the blow-out situation as soon as it occurred and both BP and Obama's team have been making apparently sincere and strenuous efforts to fix the problem. Sure, BP is also strenuously trying to underplay the problem:


"It's been 21 years and the litigation between the federal government and Exxon is still not over."
What he details next, however is telling “The executives at BP must be reading the Exxon spill response playbook because they’re doing exactly what Exxon did,” he said. For those of you without access to the oily inner sancta, the playbook’s rules are these:
1 — Understate the amount of oil spilled.
2 — Understate the environmental damage caused by the oil.
3 — Overstate the effectiveness of your company’s response.
4 — Try to buy off the locals with tiny amounts of money (BP is offering $5,000 each to coastal residents in Mississippi) in exchange for waivers promising not to sue for damages.
5 — Slap gag orders on anyone doing business with the corporation. (Fishermen who want work from BP in the cleanup efforts have to agree in writing not to speak to the media. The gag orders are legally meaningless; it’s the intimidation factor that counts.)
The dispersants that BP has slopped all over the spill are somewhat helpful. Climate Progress says: "Chemically dispersing oil spills 'solves the political problem of visible oil but not the environmental problem,' ” but there's no indication that BP and Obama's team aren't doing their best to fix the leak and to prevent any more oil from gushing into the sea than necessary. The really serious problem is that the bulk of the oil may lie about 200 to 300 feet below the surface, where it's pretty much impossible to track. We may never know where the oil is going to end up until it suddenly starts washing up on beaches hundreds, perhaps even thousands of miles from the spill.


FireDogLake has a whole webpage devoted to tracking the spill and what's being done to stop it.

No comments: