Yesterday, Judge Carl Barbier ruled British Petroleum was guilty of gross negligence in the lead-up to the Deepwater Horizon disaster, stating BP made “profit-driven decisions” during the drilling of the well and “these instances of negligence, taken together, evince an extreme deviation from the standard of care and a conscious disregard of known risk.” Barbier went on to say that due to the “egregious” nature of BP’s actions, if legal precedent had permitted, he would have found it appropriate to tack on punitive damages in the case.
British Petroleum, feeling justice had run its due course, nodded solemnly and agreed it was time to truly make things right by dropping any further legal proceedings and began to immediately pay claims again. They also issued a heart-felt apology to all it had harmed through it’s actions over the past years.
No…instead BP immediately threatened to appeal the ruling and called the decision “erroneous,” while insinuating the court isn’t being impartial.
Now that sounds more like the oil company we all know and loathe and so, a few reactions to these events:
1. The immediate would of course be to simply express towards BP, “Good. Deal with it you responsibility shirking, PR department hiding greed-merchants. You put profit first, ruined many and you get what you deserve.”
2. A more thoughtful response could simply be wonderment…is it possible that a mega-corporation is finally being held legally responsible for their actions, and in a way that actually helps those the company has harmed? The increased fines from this ruling will benefit coastal restoration projects, and coastal restoration is good for all in Louisiana. The oil spill did much, much damage to the coast, to the wildlife, to businesses and to people. British Petroleum made a lot of promises when this was headline news, but appears to be trying to extricate themselves from their mess as much as possible now that the media has gone. This ruling puts them financially back on the hook for their reckless behavior in a way that can make a strong impact in coastal restoration.
3. BP will appeal, of course. Why not? Nothing for them to lose here in an appeal process, nothing at all. Exxon dragged the whole Valdez thing out for how long, twenty years? So of course British Petroleum will do the same. And we haven’t even gotten to the legal arguments about how many barrels of oil were actually spilled, there being a vast difference between BP’s estimate and the government’s. With the fine potentially being $4,300 dollars a barrel, there will be a huge financial difference.
4. The government could respond to BP’s endless appeals by putting financial pressure on the company. As I wrote before, the government has some leverage, for while it is certainly BP’s right to fight each and every legal ruling with time consuming appeals while people go broke, the environment continues to degrade and the coast disappears, it is also the government’s right to step in and say, “You know what? That oil spill thing has become so contentious and we just don’t want to muddy the waters any further so, BP? Yeah, we’re just going to suspend your Gulf oil leases until this is all over, settled, until everybody’s happy and then we can move forward again as partners, in good faith.”
But for now, British Petroleum continues to drill in the Gulf while at the same time play the victim in the aftermath of their own, created destruction. They say the judge is not impartial, the people are demanding too much, we can’t be blamed for the decline in oyster harvest; there isn’t enough proof. And this goes on and on and on…all while they maintain how they’re a wonderful and even “green” company who is nothing more but your humble steward doing everything they can to right what’s wrong.
It’s bullshit…like BofA, like Chase: BP’s just another company doing some, but not enough to fix the problems they created when they put profit before all. British Petroleum should, and can do a lot more by dropping their appeals, the delay tactics and any pretense at being a victim and pay up, make good on their promises.
Much appreciation to Judge Carl Barbier for an important ruling, one that might go a ways in making sure this actually happens.
Have a nice day.
I wasn’t living in New Orleans when the levees failed, I was one year in on my first time in San Francisco, watching it all unfold on television just like most people not in New Orleans…the anger is still clear, as is the disbelief.
Respect and remembering those who lost and those who struggled…still struggle. And a recognition of those who still have been unable to get home. I know someone out here in SF constantly torn between going back to a place that triggers so much trauma versus staying in a place that has never been home, no matter how much he tries to make it one…
Best to him, best to all, and may those still seeking resolution nine years later, find it.
Have a nice day.
In a recent column for Fox News, Bobby Jindal writes: “I understand that the President of the United States should not be prone to wild rhetoric.”
He writes this, but I’m not sure he really understands and he should, since he has all but announced he’s running for President in 2016. He has the think tank. He is going to all the right places: Ohio, Virginia…anywhere he can go where national organizations will give him a microphone. He’s been debating Obama for years already and has legislated in his own state in such a way that his constituents suffer (from lack of health insurance as one example) while he bolsters his GOP fringe credibility.
“I understand that the President of the United States should not be prone to wild rhetoric.”
Last week, Barack Obama spoke about the murder of James Foley, executed in a youtube video released by religious extremists. Among other things, the President said “The United States of America will continue to do what we must do to protect our people. We will be vigilant and we will be relentless. When people harm Americans anywhere, we do what’s necessary to see that justice is done and we act against ISIL, standing alongside others.”
Bobby took issue with these remarks and many other statements the President made, labeling them as “insufficient, naive and just plain weak.” In his column Bobby writes how his “blood is still boiling over the recent murder,” and though not completely sure what name these “murderous fools” go by, either ISIS or ISIL, it doesn’t really matter because obviously “their real name is EVIL.” He criticizes Obama’s call for mere justice, stating unequivocally we should be offering “death, instead of justice,” and wishing the president would use a more rhetorically appropriate phrase for justice, such as “we will hunt them down and kill them,” and not just kind of kill them, but kill them “completely.”
Yet Bobby understands that “the President of the United States should not be prone to wild rhetoric.”
Okay, but does he understand his column reads like something from the comments section to a Sarah Palin Facebook post? Does he understand that to go so overboard on his criticisms smacks of a crass political opportunism at the expense of James Foley’s family and loved ones?
If he does, Bobby doesn’t seem to care and maybe he can’t, because Barack Obama’s weakness cannot go unchallenged, Bobby is not merely “quibbling with words” here. No, “the issue is far bigger than that.” And this bigger issue is how the President is so naive, how he downplayed the dangers of ISIS and how in his remarks he asserted that “people like this ultimately fail because the future is won by those who build and not destroy.” Bobby will have none of that utopian hippie bullshit that Obama hopes will reassure Americans, making them comfortable, no way. Bobby’s got only one thing on his appropriately rhetorical mind, and that is reminding us all how we won WWII, not by building, but by destroying, perhaps inferring America should drop a nuclear bomb on the terrorist group, before finally adding, “The murderous fools who cut the heads off Americans must be destroyed, and sent to their reward, such as it is, in the next life.”
So there, fuckers!
“I understand that the President of the United States should not be prone to wild rhetoric.”
Wild rhetoric is all Bobby’s got.
His whole response in this column is just one more demonstration of his angry, fist shaking routine he directs at the White House, or the Feds, or the Anyone The Tea Party Hates, in another of a long line of desperate pleas through columns and speeches and photo-ops to get seen, get heard, get noticed…
No foreign policy necessary here…just kill these murderous fools. No need to have allies in the Middle East…destroy! No need to be concerned about our place in the world, or any interpretations of our actions by those whose support we need…murder, maim, kill! I’m hard pressed to understand how I’m supposed to take Bobby seriously when it would appear his Middle Eastern Foreign Policy would fit completely on a bumper-sticker where God gets to sort them out, but we’ve seen this all before, Jindal’s righteous indignation routine. He’s been practicing it since the days of the oil spill and it might be one thing if they held any sort of substance, but they don’t. Whether he’s yelling about Common Core, religious liberty, hostile takeovers or terrorist coddling it’s all starting to amount to just Bobby being Bobby, tailoring a reactionary response to what at other times might even be a made-up problem, anything that gives him opportunity to pound his fist and shout about it until someone gives him some attention…
I’ve seen actual one trick ponies more capable of producing a surprise.
This shtick is boring, ineffective and tired. It’s Al Gore at the Gore/Bush debates sighing loudly and rolling his eyes. It’s some asshole in the stands behind home plate yelling “Swing Batter!” over and over and over again, the entire fucking game. In fact, the only way this particular column could’ve become more desperate and cartoonish is if it had been accompanied by a picture of Bobby with his pants down and a ruler in hand.
Have a nice day.
It was over four years ago that British Petroleum unleashed their disaster in the Gulf Coast and for four years we’ve all been hearing about how BP will not rest until they “make it right” for the Gulf and all affected by the spilled oil from the Deepwater Horizon explosion that killed eleven people and have harmed tens of thousands more. We hear it. We hear it all the time. To this day, the commercials play out across television, radio, on billboards and on the internet, yet what they say is still far from the truth.
Things in the Gulf are not all right.
Instead, they have become litigious and a company that’s reaped so much profit is now spending on so many lawyers to sift through their agreements for technicalities while disputing new environmental evidence, practices that though they may follow the letter of the law and allow those at BP to sleep at night, damages the spirit of their agreements with a region repeatedly violated, turning this four year old, ongoing disaster into nightmares for those across the Gulf Coast.
So, maybe it’s time for their leases to again be suspended by the EPA until they stop fighting, accept responsibility and truly make amends not only for the known damages, but for any succeeding damage to both people and the environment not yet uncovered. Suspend their leases until their following courses of action change:
The Supreme Court Appeal
In 2012, British Petroleum agreed to a settlement with people harmed by their oil spill, an arrangement with a complex methodology that takes into account a business’s location within certain zones along the Gulf Coast and a basic formula for lost revenues and recovery. Since this agreement, BP has been challenging that some of the methodology’s covered businesses couldn’t have been harmed by the spill and has argued, repeatedly in front of US District Court Judge Carl Barbier’s court that these businesses should not be paid. Barbier has consistently and repeatedly maintained that BP entered into an agreement and should abide, that BP agreed to pay businesses according to this formula as part of a compromise and it would be disingenuous to now try to pick apart the methodology they agreed to in his courtroom.
But BP is not backing down. They instead are asking the Supreme Court to protect them from their own decisions, from their own agreements and word will come down in October from the Supreme Court on whether they will hear this appeal. It’s four years after the spill. The national media is gone from the story. British Petroleum wants out of their agreement to “make things right.”
The Medical Settlements
When the Deepwater Horizon exploded, workers were hired by the thousandfold to clean up the oil, lay and replace boom, whatever was necessary to get as much of the oil out of the water as quickly as possible. Many of these clean-up workers didn’t have protective equipment and many non-oil clean-up workers also were affected by the toxins, just by living in the area or being on or near the water. This has understandably left a lot of people in the Gulf sick, and many more could become sick later. British Petroleum is now interpreting their medical settlements not by what will make people whole for these medical complaints, but by when they were diagnosed with their ailments…a calender date that has little to do with the severity of any medical consequences and everything to do with how much British Petroleum wants to pay to settle a bill for any possible medical care.
Again, it’s four years after the spill and the national media is gone from the story. British Petroleum wants to alter their agreement and it would seem, make things just right enough for their bottom line.
Ongoing Environmental Damage
And the oil is not gone, neither is the chemical dispersant they used. Environmental damage to the Gulf Coast continues with record dolphin and sea turtle deaths as well as extensive damage to coral that show the oil spill’s footprint is both deeper and wider than previously thought. Last year, beach monitors discovered more than 46,000 thousand tar balls and over one and a half tons of submerged tar mats, and there is also evidence that the “quickly evaporating” dispersant BP dumped all over the Gulf is still there, found in tests all over the region. In addition, the oyster situation is grim with thousands of acres of oyster beds producing less than a third of the pre-oil spill harvest. Also troubling is the complete lack of oyster larvae on all of these decimated reefs, places where the oil came ashore and would seem to forecast that the oyster yields will not improve any time soon.
When confronted with any of this evidence BP sticks to standard blame shifting, citing possible other causes or saying the evidence shows nothing conclusive, a shrug of the shoulders from the latest BP spokesman before moving on and really, why not? It would appear British Petroleum is counting on the nation no longer paying attention to how, or how not concerned BP really is with the Gulf and besides, didn’t you see the commercials, the bright and shining faces, the pastoral natural scenes of sunsets and water and birds and boats and…
BP is doing quite alright, thank you
Just ask their shareholders, who must be feeling pretty good about their investment these days, especially when BP recently came to an agreement with the EPA and are now resuming business with the Federal Government in the Gulf. In fact, at the most recent auction, British Petroleum was the “highest bidder on 24 offshore oil and gas blocks out of the 31 properties it pursued in auction.” This to go along with increased dividends for shareholders, several new oil rigs coming online and a 10% increased stock price projection based on their 2nd quarter earnings in 2014.
So then…BP is fighting Deepwater Horizon business and medical settlements in court, is shifting blame on the environmental destruction they caused, the deaths to sea turtles, coral, dolphins and the decimation of thousands of oyster reefs all while minimizing the amount of oil and dispersant still in the Gulf and still washing ashore. In addition, they are again bidding on oil blocks for new oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico, set to start reaping in even greater profits than before.
This is making someone right, yes…but not the Gulf.
This is seeking loopholes in settlement agreements to pay as little as possible to those they’ve harmed while laying the groundwork to make even more profit from the very region they’ve wrecked.
That’s not justice.
And in response, it would only seem fair to propose that until British Petroleum truly honors their words, they should not be permitted to continue in the Gulf. They should remain locked out from a region they’ve already harmed so much, at least until they truly account for themselves and follow the spirit of their agreements by sending their lawyers home. I understand this suggestion might seem extreme, but is it any less extreme than the belief that everyone impacted by their 2010 spill should receive complete restitution, that the coast should be rebuilt and that all medical bills should be paid, regardless of when the diagnosis occurred? I stand by those beliefs and for BP to meet this bar, it would be to keep their promises and their agreements. It would be to actually honor what they claimed they would do from the beginning: to make things right, because right now, every roadblock BP throws up in court dishonors their company, their promises and everyone affected who has to suffer, worry or leave their lives in the Gulf behind.
The EPA should suspend the leases until BP stops their squirming.
Suspend the leases and close BP’s wallets until they finally decide to open them for the purpose of paying for the damage they’ve done, without technicality, loophole or blame-shifting….and make them keep that wallet open as we continue to learn the extant of the damages they’ve caused as a result of their negligence.
Have a nice day.
And for continued coverage of Gulf Coast happenings, please continue to read:
Dambala at American Zombie.
David Hammer at WWL.
Eighteen years ago, I was one of several thousand people standing on Adams Street in Chicago. We craned our heads to look over the solid wall of police, past a parking lot to the United Center where the Democrats were having their National Convention. It had been a long march from Wicker Park, to demonstrate against the death penalty and police brutality and as night was falling, a couple of bonfires lit up Adams, dancing the light and throwing shadows at the since demolished Henry Horner Homes.
At the time, the buildings that made up these projects were already pretty ragged, but the playground equipment was brand new, shiny and colorful, put in place by the city should any media covering the convention break ranks and make their way to where we were blocked in by the police, far away from the eyesight of any delegates.
And what I really remember, or maybe better put…will never forget are the four kids who skipped past me as I stood by the fire, holding hands, smiling, singing: “Nobody cares, nobody cares, nobody cares about us!” I know that might sound like bullshit, something made up to fit a convenient narrative, but it’s not. I saw them three more times that night, and they kept up with their song every time they came around. The last time, at least they had ice cream cones.
Sometimes, I wonder where the four of them are now. All the time, I wish things were different, but scenes like Ferguson (again with the tear gas last night) tell me it’s not. And in Chicago, the kids still sing the same song, and even though the most notorious Chicago projects are long gone, the kids still have to duck too many bullets and batons all over the South and West Side…while Rahm Emanuel proposes a school to be named after Barack Obama, built where those kids aren’t.
No, not much has changed at all.
But we keep trying, because those in (official) power have shown, time and time again, they won’t…
Lupe Fiasco – Around My Way (Freedom Ain’t Free)
Have a nice day.
I was going to write this morning about Bobby Jindal. That was the plan, take the day off of work and just kind of fuck around with a silly idea I had that I found amusing, but as I read the news with my coffee I didn’t really feel like it anymore:
Three cities: New Orleans, Ferguson and Chicago. Just shooting and death, death and more death. Cops, gangs, cop-gangs and it just keeps going on and on and on and on…and too many people caught in all the crossfire.
And all the frustration with all this death and the feelings of powerlessness it gives suddenly made me think of an exchange I had on Saturday night in a bar here in San Francisco. I was shooting pool with a friend and having a beer or several when the friend I was with started talking about people in the neighborhood and just so casually, he says, “Well, that’s what happens around here with all the (n-bomb).”
I practically spit out my beer, “The fuck you say?”
He started turning red, “What?”
“I can’t believe you just said that,” I said, shaking my head.
“So, you hate me now?”
“No man,” I responded, “I don’t hate you, but if you want to have those kind of idiot thoughts in your head, that’s your business. Just don’t be saying that shit around me.”
And we finished the game of pool, any remaining conversation kind of ended and I made my excuses and went home, turning down his offer of a ride back to my apartment. This is a guy I’ve known for two plus years now, who I met at work, at a social work gig in the oh-so-supposedly-liberal city of San Francisco and even sitting here now I wonder about what he said and I ask myself, is there something about me that made him think that was okay to say? Maybe he’s become more relaxed as we’ve hung out here and there and that’s a previously hidden, but normal part of his vocabulary, and it just came out?
I don’t know for sure, and I don’t know if we’ll ever hang out again for me to ask him.
But I do know all of this got me thinking about a few other things…about the guy the NYPD killed a couple of weeks back with a choke-hold or about all the black men the police have killed nationwide. I think about gang violence in Chicago and New Orleans. I think about Paul Ryan doing a “poverty tour” where at one point he blamed poverty on “inner-city” culture. I think a lot about loaded language, both coded and not used to describe Barack Obama. I think about all the pundits on national news programs, both broadcast and cable who make the rounds making outrageous statements about race, violence, poverty, “real” Americans, statements that would cause an eye-roll from any semi-skilled fact-checker. I think about this violence in our cities, about the dismissal of those less fortunate, the brutality of the police and how all of this links up to the words from your Ann Coulters and Sarah Palins, your Rushes and Seans and Bills and Mitt Romney percentages.
I think back to an interview where Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel tried laying the blame for all the shootings in Chicago at the feet of families and the community while ignoring and thus absolving himself of the fact that he closed schools, mental health clinics and disproportionately laid off city workers all over the West and South side (read largely African American and Hispanic) while at the same time, doing very, very little to get jobs into these neighborhoods that might instill more hope of finding a better way of making it for the largely unemployed youth in the city.
I think of the coming budget to the city of New Orleans and how Mayor Mitch Landrieu is already sounding the typical warning bells of austerity and what that might mean to those being left behind by the new New Orleans. I think of the arguments about Orleans Parish Prison, about how many people it will jail there and what messages the potential size of this place sends to anyone who has to live in it’s shadow.
I think about the murder of Michael Brown and the riots in Ferguson, the drive by shooting in the 9th Ward or the 19 shot on Mother’s Day or the weekend body counts in Chicago and way too many other murders and riots and frustrations and angers and loss…always loss, no matter who shoots or who dies.
I think a lot, maybe too much…but I do believe there’s a direct link between the words we use and the world we see. As coded racial statements or even not so coded racial statements again become increasingly normalized in mainstream media outlets, spoken by supposedly mainstream pundits, politicians or just your average asshole, a climate is perpetuated and this climate is having definite affects…dehumanizing affects to race, to economic class, to anyone else who’s living on the margins:
Maybe these words make it a little bit easier for a mayor to ignore the needs of whole sections of his city.
Maybe it makes it a little easier for a governor to refuse an expansion of health care.
Maybe it makes a police officer just a bit more at ease in pulling his gun.
Maybe it makes that drive by shooter a bit more ready to get into the car.
And yes, I understand this is a simplistic way of explaining a complex argument, but nevertheless, dismissive words entering the popular consciousness on a regular basis will, over time, dehumanize people and cultures, both internally and externally and the results of this are never good. The results of this can contribute to the deadliest of scenarios. And all of this bullshit has to stop, the words, the violence, the perception of the communities that make up our cities as separate and distinct. They’re not. They’re as connected as words and actions.
I remember going to a conference a few months back on race where an attendee asked the speaker, an expert on gang violence, why gang members were so willing to kill each other over such small slights. The speaker responded that when you’ve grown up never getting afforded any respect by those around you, when you do finally get it, you’ll be damned if you let anyone take it away again.
Yeah…it’s all connected.
And I certainly don’t have all the answers.
But I can start with simple respect, and include in this the respect the demand that elected politicians not just serve a portion of the community. And I can also start with language and send a message to those with the mouthpieces that though they may enjoy using racial and otherwise volatile words with an angry sneer or a knowing wink, these words have social consequences, and perhaps a consequence should be a timeline on how long they get to hold that fucking microphone…or stay in elected office. And no, this isn’t any sort of attack on free speech. I firmly believe that everyone has the right to say whatever they like without the government imprisoning them for doing so…but a social cost? Well, of course, that’s what makes us a society. If I go into work tomorrow at my housing non-profit and start talking to clients about how poor people are leeches on the system, I’d probably get fired. As I should be. Prison? No. The unemployment line? Uh-huh, that’s a social cost.
And in my opinion, too many police, politicians and pundits no longer pay a social cost for expressing ignorance and this leads to a domino affect of dehumanization over time and the costs of this, they’re huge. They can even contribute to the death in our streets.
Just a thought, nothing groundbreaking, but it’s what’s on my mind today…
Also, I think I need to call my friend from Saturday night, maybe invite him to lunch over the coming weekend so I can really talk to him about why what he said is not okay with me, and why I think he should stop saying that kind of shit for good.
Have a nice day.