Some BP Perspective


A NASA satellite image shows the BP oil slick on the sea's surface

Let’s consider for a moment, the unthinkable. The BP spill in the Gulf was the result of a terrorist act. Of course we all know that’s not the case but thinking of it in that context does give us some new perspective.

Now let’s continue our make believe story and imagine that the despicable terrorist responsible for this incomprehensible act of destruction was not only identified but captured as well. Now let’s go even further and imagine that not only was this monstrous bastard of a terrorist caught, but, shockingly, there was already a law on the books to deal with asshole terrorists trying to wreak havoc on oil wells. Hooray!

But wait, there’s a problem. Boo! The problem is that this jerkoff terrorist was so successful and got so freaking lucky that he created a, hitherto, totally inconceivable amount of destruction.

Of course since we were completely unable to conceive this unthinkable, astronomical amount of destruction from a terrorist that, up until now couldn’t even light his shoe or his underwear on fire properly, that we were totally unprepared to adequately deal with and punish said terrorist so, appallingly, the maximum sentence for this atrocious crime is a mere ten years.

That’s it, there’s no way around it. But wait, now that we’ve been able to actually witness destruction on this vast scale we have the opportunity to change the law, to actually hold this asshole terrorist accountable for what he did. We have the ability to make sure that the punishment fits the crime.

A young heron sits dying amid an oil-covered mangrove on an island in Barataria Bay, off Louisiana. The area is also home to brown pelicans, terns, gulls and roseate spoonbills. (Gerald Herbert/associated Press)

There’s only one problem. Asshole terrorist guy and all his friends gave a crapload of money to some shady politicians and, believe it or not, these arrogant pricks have the nerve to openly block the government’s attempt to hold this guy liable.

In an opening skirmish over how much money companies should be forced to pay for oil spill damages, Democratic legislators Thursday failed to speed through legislation to raise liability caps from $75 million to $10 billion.

Their effort was thwarted by Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, a key oil industry ally who said that the bill would end up empowering only the “biggest of the big oil” companies to drill America’s offshore resources.

With bought off elected officials and corporate recklessness like this who needs enemies.

In March 2005, a massive explosion ripped through a tower at BP’s refinery in Texas City, Texas, killing 15 workers and injuring 170 others. Investigators later determined that the company had ignored its own protocols on operating the tower, which was filled with gasoline, and that a warning system had been disabled.

The company pleaded guilty to federal felony charges and was fined more than $50 million by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

I’m no expert, but the problem seems to be that when a government agency tries to step in and institute regulations and procedures that could have saved at least 2 dozen lives, each and every time BP has told them, in essence, to go fuck themselves.

Just last fall, BP fought off safety regulations, continuing with business as usual. In a September 14, 2009 letter to MMS, Richard Morrison, BP vice president for Gulf of Mexico production, fought against an MMS proposal that would require operators to have their safety program audited at least once every three years, instead of the voluntary system that is currently in place. Morrison wrote: “We are not supportive of the extensive, prescriptive regulations as proposed in this rule. … [the voluntary programs] have been and continue to be very successful.” MMS has estimated that the proposed rules would cost operators about $4.59 million in startup costs and $8 million in annual recurring costs.

A Wall Street Journal report also found that BP’s oil well in the Gulf of Mexico did not have a remote-control shut-off switch that is used by two other oil-producing nations as a last-resort safeguard against underwater spills. The device is voluntary in the U.S., and while it is not clear whether it could have prevented the spill, it is another indicator of BP’s lax safety measures and proclivity for convenience over caution.

Then again, you don’t increase your first quarter profits by 135% to close to $6 billion in one year by worrying about pesky safety regulations and people’s lives.

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