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BP’s Oil Mess: How Could This Happen?

That’s the video of the geyser of oil shooting out of the wreckage of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, off the coast of Louisiana. How on earth could this happen? Isn’t the government supposed to protect our country from disasters like this? Yeah, I know. Any thoughts like that should have gone out the window after Hurricane Katrina.

But isn’t this a Democratic administration? Wasn’t Obama an environment-friendly candidate? Well he gave a lot of speeches in which he claimed to care about the environment. And aren’t speeches what really counts after all?

So how did it happen? First, as you’ve probably all heard by now, Obama got lots of campaign money from BP employees.

BP and its employees have given more than $3.5 million to federal candidates over the past 20 years, with the largest chunk of their money going to Obama, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Donations come from a mix of employees and the company’s political action committees — $2.89 million flowed to campaigns from BP-related PACs and about $638,000 came from individuals.

On top of that, the oil giant has spent millions each year on lobbying — including $15.9 million last year alone — as it has tried to influence energy policy.

We thought we got rid of the oil men when Bush and Cheney moved out. But no, the new occupant of the WH is seemingly just as oil-friendly as those two.

Josh Green tells it like it is in The Boston Globe: Even an oil spill won’t move Washington

For months, a group of senators — Democrat John Kerry, Republican Lindsey Graham, and Independent Joe Lieberman — worked to craft an energy and climate bill that fell apart last week before it could even be introduced. Then came the Deepwater Horizon oil rig collapse. This should have prompted the Senate to look anew at the energy bill, which steers the country toward a cleaner, safer energy future.

But that’s not what has happened. Many early responders in both parties have defended, not condemned, offshore drilling….there’s no indication the disaster has prompted Obama or anyone else to reconsider his position. In the past, major disasters shifted the terms of debate. This time, nobody is budging. But the support for offshore drilling that the White House was willing to trade for reductions in carbon emissions — the crucial achievement in any climate bill — is no longer feasible. As Florida Senator Bill Nelson put it, any bill that includes drilling is “dead on arrival.’’

Perversely, the Gulf disaster has had the short-term effect of weakening the already tepid support for a Senate climate bill.

Because it’s all out in the open now. The elitist freaks in Congress couldn’t care less what we think about all this. It’s all about the money they will get from corporations looking to profit from cap and trade. I don’t believe for one minute the bill would have had any teeth. John Kerry, who worked on the bill with Leibermann, even wrote a sob-sister book about environmentalism. I don’t know how these people can live with themselves. The only explanation is that they are psychopaths.

Did Obama and his buddies care that BP had a long history of oil rig accidents and spills? Apparently not, because he “sheltered BP’s Deepwater Horizon rig from regulatory requirement”

Last year the Obama administration granted oil giant BP a special exemption from a legal requirement that it produce a detailed environmental impact study on the possible effects of its Deepwater Horizon drilling operation in the Gulf of Mexico…

…the Department of the Interior’s Minerals Management Service (MMS) gave BP a “categorical exclusion” on April 6, 2009 to commence drilling with Deepwater Horizon even though it had not produced the impact study required by a law known as the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)….

The exemption came less than one month after BP had requested it in a March 10 “exploration plan” submitted to the MMS. The plan said that because a spill was “unlikely,” no additional “mitigation measures other than those required by regulation and BP policy will be employed to avoid, diminish or eliminate potential impacts on environmental resources.” BP also assured the MMS that any spill would not seriously hurt marine wildlife and that “due to the distance to shore (48 miles) and the response capabilities that would be implemented, no significant adverse impacts are expected.”

In addition, according to the World Socialist Website,

In 2009, the Obama administration intervened to support the reversal of a court order that would have halted offshore oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. Obama’s Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, who has long had close ties to the industry, specifically cited BP’s Deepwater Horizon operation as one that should be allowed to go forward, according to a group involved in the court case.

A Washington DC Appeals Court ruled in April 2009 that the Bush administration’s five-year plan for offshore oil and gas drilling (covering 2007 to 2012) was not based on a proper review of the environmental impact of the drilling. Only days before the ruling, the Obama administration had granted BP a “categorical exclusion,” exempting it from an environmental impact study for the Deepwater Horizon project.

Unbelievable!

According to a lengthy article posted today by science writer John McQuaid, this spill was An Accident Waiting to Happen

When such catastrophic mechanical failures happen, they’re almost always traced to flaws in the broader system: the workers on the platform, the corporate hierarchies they work for, and the government bureaucracies that oversee what they do. For instance, a study of 600 major equipment failures in offshore drilling structures done by Robert Bea, an engineering professor at the University of California, Berkeley, found that 80 percent were due to “human and organizational factors,” and 50 percent of those due to flaws in the engineering design of equipment or processes.

Bea has worked as an engineer on offshore drilling operations and was also one of the leaders of an independent engineering study of the New Orleans levee failures during Hurricane Katrina. And the Gulf spill has some similarities to the 2005 flood, which was caused in large part by faulty floodwalls approved by the Army Corps of Engineers. The common threads between Katrina and the current oil spill, Bea wrote in an email, are “hubris, arrogance, ignorance… combined with a natural hazard.” [….] “The danger has escalated exponentially,” he said. “We’ve pushed it to the bloody edge in this very, very unforgiving environment, and we don’t have a lot of experience.”

Wouldn’t you think when there is this much danger of an accident and so little experience in this type of deep water drilling that our government would make sure to get a detailed, realistic environmental impact report and specific plans for what would happen if the worse happened. But the Obama administration not only laid down the red carpet for BP, it went to court to fight for BP’s right to despoil the entire Gulf coast of the U.S.!

We’ve heard about what the oil spill will do to birds, fish, and sea mammals; what about humans? Well it’s dangerous for humans in the vicinity of the spill too.

The list of potential threats runs from minor nuisances such as runny noses and headaches to nausea. While waiting to see how bad things will get, public health agencies are monitoring air quality, drinking water supplies and seafood processing plants and advising people to take precautions. [….]

In a possible hint of things to come, a foul stench drifted over parts of southwestern Louisiana last week. The oil probably was the culprit, said Alan Levine, secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, whose office heard about dozens of complaints – even from state legislators in New Orleans, some 130 miles from the leaky undersea well.

If we can’t get the government to deal with BP, maybe their own shareholders will do it. The LA Times is reporting that some shareholders have already filed suit.

Tomorrow morning at 10, executives from BP, Transocean (the owner of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig), and Halliburton (they were involved in setting up the equipment) will begin testifying before various Senate Committees. There will be another hearing tomorrow at 2:30PM, and another at 10AM on Wednesday.

From an environmental blog, Earthjustice: Will Oil Execs Gush As Much As Their Gulf Oil Spill?

A gusher of information about the oil spill might explain a lot about how the accident occurred and how the federal government was convinced by British Petroleum that the risk was “insignificant.” The hearings may also help determine whether the Obama administration’s oil/gas leasing program — including exploratory drilling this summer in the Arctic — now on hold can go forward.

Earthjustice will be blogging live tomorrow when the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee holds its hearing.

I’ve said this many times before, and I’ll probable say it again multiple times, but even though I knew Obama was going to be an awful President, I really had no idea he would be this bad. I guess this is what happens when an inexperienced, but ambitious, narcissistic man is put into the most powerful job in the world.

42 Responses

  1. I don’t claim to be an intellectual elite- but sometimes a little common sense will do. I caught this bit of news relative to this today- will BP follow through? Absolutely not- no money in it for them-

    Hay is for … cleaning up oil spills?
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ynews/20100510/sc_ynews/ynews_sc1978

    As for BP, Carpenter said he was invited to do a demo for high-level BP executives on Wednesday, but he has yet to hear back from the beleaguered oil giant about plans to move forward using his cleanup idea.

    There is also a group called “A Matter of Trust” that has been collecting hair and fur to make booms and mats- and yes- it works. But again- no money for the oil companies or their chemical company buddies.

    So- two relatively low cost, fairly environmentally friendly methods exist- and where is the government? Oh yes- where it has been- up the ass of its donors. Pigs.

    • Yep. You can say that again–they are pigs.

      • It absolutely makes me sick. All the round bales that sat out over the winter up here in NW PA are no longer fit for horse consumption. The outside of the roll is spoiled, but the inner part would work just fine! Small round bales go for 35 bucks and large for 50. The farmers could use that money and it must be less expensive than the chemical dispersants.
        But the hay will be left in the fields to decompose or be used in compost. {{sigh}}

        • “Offer me solutions and I decline”

          It’s the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine….REM

      • Just rewatched Babe with the kids recently. I say you are insulting pigs. 🙂

  2. This story is already being pushed to the corner. Only 1 small story at the bottom of memeorandum. They’ll bury it and shake the shiny SCOTUS nomination to deflect attention.

    BTW, one thing everyone can do is email all of the salons and pet grooming locations in their area the http://matteroftrust.org/ link and make sure they are aware of the effort to collect clippings. I’ve been doing it for the last hour or so. (h/t mahadzel and dakinikat)

  3. I have the Matter of Trust video up on my blog post- the dog is going to get a big brushing tomorrow!

  4. the way it see it we,v been jacked over

  5. Elena Kagan supported indefinite detention of terror suspects.

    http://rawstory.com/rs/2010/0510/kagan-supported-detaining-terror-suspects-indefinitely-trial/

    • And anyone who questions The One is a terror suspect. Love is a battlefield, so battlefield law should apply wherever there is no love.

    • Where are the boundaries. Are there even any prisoners of war. Everyone in captivity in Iraq and Afghanistan deserves a courtroom trial. They are all victims.

      • Isn’t that right.

        • Hell yes that’s right. If we aren’t careful the next battlefields will be right here in the US. Goodbye habeus corpus.

          • Exactly, when Obama is arguing that we need to hold people indefinitely because the so-called evidence we have against them is tainted and would be thrown out, what the hell does that say? They’re just making this up as they go along, and anyone who wishes to trust them, good luck.

          • Yes, and if Holder “alters” Miranda rights, there’s no telling what the next president might use it for. That’s not tin foil, folks.

    • Of course, did anyone have any doubts about that? I’ll also bet that she is a big proponent of expanding Executive power.

  6. Did I see today a number saying that 1/3 of US seafood comes from these waters ?
    When you sh*t in your kitchen, things are very bad indeed.
    This disaster has not even yet presented itself in full.
    We are looking short range…this boondoggle is worse in the long range.
    We are really screwing up our planet.
    Where are all the environmentalists?
    What the H#LL has Ms Boxer, our environ. Senator said about anything?
    Where are all our leaders?
    This all stinks to high heaven.
    Thank gawd we have blogs and tweet, no one will be safe walking around on the surface of the earth in the future.
    We will all be in bunkers…with 6G Wi-fi and tubes of life sustaining food arriving by pneumatic chutes. Oh and .. big thumbs from all the texting…

  7. I don’t know about psychopaths. Maybe? Maybe not? What I have said before and I firmly believe to be true is that the US Congress is the largest collection of sociopaths in the world. And of course, Obama is definitely a sociopath. Never had a doubt on that. I also think that the nature of corporate structure actually lends itself to having extreme amounts of sociopaths in charge. In my opinion I think it is very difficult to be highly successful in one of these multi-national corporations without actually being a sociopath.

    • There isn’t any distinction between a psychopath and sociopath. Those are just two different names for what is now called antisocial personality disorder. There are mild psychopaths, and lots of them are politicians, corporate executives, and Wall Street bankers.

    • Obama is a psychopath. Everyone is Congress is a psychopath. Those who work for corporations and banks, says vice-presidents and up, are obviously psychopaths. They should all be shipped off to mental institutions.

      • Those in state and local governments and those below vice-president levels are emerging psychopaths. They can stay. Maybe send them off to re-education camps, somewhere. We’ll need to build those.

        • We can build the special camps for them, somewhere in northern Alaska.

          • We definitely would need to have some sort of test to identify and differentiate between an emerging psychopath and a full blown psychopath. As far as I can tell at this juncture the only difference is the level of success they have attained.

          • 3W,

            If want to be sarcastic, fine. But I didn’t claim that all those people you listed are psychopaths. Your strange characterization doesn’t represent my views.

            I may have been a little over the top in my post. I’m just really angry and upset about this. I don’t see anything humorous about it at all–sorry if that makes me a wet blanket. I don’t see any sign from Obama or most of Washington that they actually care about this horrible event. To me, that indicates they lack empathy–the hallmark of a psychopath.

            And BTW, psychopaths are not “mentally ill.” They have a personality disorder. They are perfectly capable of distinguishing right from wrong, etc. They just don’t care about other people.

          • BB, these issues have been bending my head and more like everyone else. And I understand the need to push the envelope to get across to people and get something done about the bastards and criminals, at least set some examples. I’m also trying to see reality as clear as possible, gray areas included, to work out where the best achievable answers might be to throw support behind. Juggling black, white, gray, dropping balls along the way. Sorry for that. 😕

          • Nationalism seems to be on the rise. The US and North America are still the richest continent on the planet. One result of globalization has been to spread the wealth of nations somewhat, in places like China and India which have half the world’s people, in South America which may actually have more natural resources than us, in Africa where population growth is highest in the world. The effect so far has not exactly been a level playing field in a socialist sense, but wealth is clearly migrating in a patchy sort of way, across countries and within countries. We’ll see how nationalism runs up against globalization. Heady times.

          • It’s OK, 3W. I feel the same way. It’s hard for me to believe what it happening. Interesting comments about nationalism. I wonder if we might be a better country in the end if we aren’t so powerful–if the empire falls. I used to think England was better for it, but these days they seem nearly as bad as the US in terms of taking away civil liberties.

      • That would be a great idea except back in the 80’s they cut the funding and threw a heck of a lot of very seriously mentally ill people out on the streets to live under bridges and on park benches, etc. The reprehensible behavior of our privileged elite has got to be stopped someway, somehow.

        This one oil spill threatens the livelihoods of millions of people. Amazing. Shouldn’t our government have already put into action a plan to put a stop to this leak. Wouldn’t a couple of well placed torpedos destroy the shaft and seal the well off? There should have been a contingency plan already in place before signing off allowing the drilling in the first place. When you do something so risky there absolutely has to be an ultimate solution in case things go terribly wrong or else you don’t go ahead with the plan.

  8. i dont think i could have said it better

  9. It is interesting to just see the timeline. Remember poor 0bama was always given a pass on everything because he was so new. “He has only been President a month, 3 months 6 months, only a year. He is new. Give him a chance. AND YET HE GAVE BP THIS CRIMINAL EXEMPTION IN very short order. The exemption was granted April 6. It must have been requested in Feb or March. In less than 3 months 0bama and his trusted creeps gave away the country. And now we have

  10. alibe i agree they always say that same BS then they ussaly blame it on bush . this is getting preety old people need to wake up and hold his feet to the fire .

  11. testing

    • Great post & links BB – thanks .Last week I went looking for news – oil guy posted “this was a small stain – not to worry”, Al Fin is a moran or obot, guess those are the same thing – hah.

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