Fortifying the Wall – BP Accused of, and the NOAA Withholds…Information
You really didn’t think they’d just give up without a fight.
Transocean, the owners of the Deepwater Horizon is reportedly at odds with British Petroleum, accusing the company of not turning over evidence for Transocean’s own investigation of the oil rig’s explosion, while the NOAA, despite congressional demand is refusing to release their data and methodology for the much maligned government study that produced the 74 % of the oil “gone” numbers. As public doubts about what is right and what is wrong, what is factual and what is fraud continue to churn in the Gulf of Mexico’s waters, it would seem that what residents of the Gulf Coast need is factual reassurance from two of the main players in the oil spill and it’s cleanup. They want to understand what happened and what is happening, but if these stories are any indication the government and corporate officials involved have set their own timetable and with the media spotlight back on and bright, this timetable appears to be one of delay.
Transocean Accuses British Petroleum of Withholding Key Evidence:
The British periodical, Daily Mail recently reported that BP declared itself innocent of gross negligence after an internal inquiry by British Petroleum into the actions of British Petroleum, proved to British Petroleum they were not at fault in the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon. If the company is found guilty of gross negligence by someone who disagrees with their verdict, the fine per barrel of oil released into the Gulf would quadruple, and the company plans to use their findings to defend themselves in upcoming hearings led by the US Government.
Transocean, the actual owner of the rig is also attempting their own investigation, but feels this process is being hampered by BP’s refusal to release critical evidence.
From the AP:
In a sternly worded letter to BP’s attorneys, Transocean said the oil giant has in its sole possession information key to identifying the cause “of the tragic loss of eleven lives and the pollution in the Gulf of Mexico,” and that the company’s refusal to turn over the documents has hampered Transocean’s investigation and hindered what it has been able to tell families of the deceased and state and federal investigators about the accident.
“This is troubling, both in light of BP’s frequently stated public commitment to openness and a fair investigation, and because it appears that BP is withholding evidence in an attempt to prevent any entity other than BP from investigating the cause of the April 20 incident and the resulting spill,” the letter said.
In a briefing before British Petroleum’s shareholders last June, former BP CEO Tony Hayward told of how he felt it was important for the company to share the “initial perspectives from our internal investigations” with the government for the reasons of “transparency and in helping the industry learn the lessons from BP’s experience as quickly as possible,” but it would appear this urgency to help others in the oil industry learn stops at the government’s door, and does not extend itself to the public or to their corporate partners, especially when guilt or innocence is being decided.
British Petroleum, of course, disagrees with Transocean’s assessment.
BP spokeswoman Elizabeth Ashford called Transocean’s letter “misleading and misguided…We have been at the forefront of cooperating with various investigations commissioned by the U. S. government and others into the causes of the Deepwater Horizon tragedy,” Ashford said. “Our commitment to cooperate with these investigations has been and remains unequivocal and steadfast.”
Even in the face of such firmly put words, Transocean maintains their allegation, also reporting in their letter, BP has rebuffed at least seven of its requests for information. And while BP has turned over some documents, it has not provided Transocean with any information since June 21, and has not even acknowledged the company’s requests since August 3.
Substantial charges these are, but like much of everything that transpires in the Gulf of Mexico, it would appear for the time being BP expects us to take them at their word.
NOAA Refuses to Release Data and Methodology of Study:
During a recess hearing of his Energy and Environment Subcommittee, Rep Ed Markey questioned if the government’s facts and figures on oil remaining in the Gulf might be creating a false impression of the Gulf’s recovery, “People want to believe that everything is OK and I think this report and the way it is being discussed is giving many people a false sense of confidence regarding the state of the Gulf,” he said.
He went on to issue a demand that the NOAA release their numbers.
The NOAA refused.
During a Wednesday telephone briefing on the spill for congressional staffers, NOAA scientists said the data might not be available for two months and this time frame was echoed in the hearing by the NOAA’s senior scientist Bill Lehr who also added, “Some of our academic friends have asked for this…I would suggest that patience in this case is a virtue.” The reasons the NOAA gives for this delay is the information is still being compiled, analyzed and peer reviewed.
This would appear a kinder, gentler way of saying the report isn’t ready.
Rep Markey too, was unimpressed, saying the report “shouldn’t have been released,” back on August 4th, “First you gave the answer, and now you are going to be showing your work. … and that’s the opposite of the way in which a study of that magnitude would be released.”
The White House, as Mother Jones suggests, was more interested in PR and a New York Times headline than they were in backing up their facts.
Two articles, two stories, two issues…BP and the NOAA; what they both have in common is time.
British Petroleum states they have always been cooperative with investigations and disputes Transocean’s allegations of withholding evidence, but if Transcocean’s allegations are correct, odds are at some point down the road, BP will have little choice but to release any evidence that could point to fault in the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon. By refusing to do so now, they are buying themselves time, and the NOAA is doing the same. They can stand by their oil spill numbers for at least another two months and should their methodology and data prove to be false or misleading, they too at least will have benefited from the passage of time.
And right now, time is very important.
Right now, big media is back on the hunt.
With the studies done by the University of Georgia, the University of South Florida and now a new report set to be released next week by Dr. Camilli and his team from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, not only are the government’s numbers on the oil spill being called into question, but new evidence of a vast oil plume’s existence directly related to dispersed oil from BP’s Macondo well is making headlines. Initially both BP and the NOAA denied the existence of such plumes, but both have been forced to admit they do in fact exist.
And all the coverage of these studies has made the recent spotlight much brighter.
People are again paying attention, so the last thing BP needs right now would be to release any possible evidence that pointed to their guilt in the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon while the NOAA, they would hate to have their data and methodology called into question by peer scientists, not now, not while things are getting hot again.
The official story they have both been perpetuating is beginning to smolder, why light more matches?
It is in their interest to wait it out, wait for people’s attention to wane, then perhaps on some slow news Friday, couple of months down the road…Halloween weekend would be good…let the information come out while everybody is busy making plans with their kids or friends, when they don’t have time to spend on any new headlines any new information could create. It would be a good plan, one that’s been used by governments and corporations for years and if the facts are not in their favor, it could be the only plan left. The American people are a passionate people, but also a people easily distracted and big media is not much better.
At the hearing, Rep Markey said, “The longer the time that elapses, the lower the political pressure and the public attention will be there to make sure the resources are brought to the problem,” he said of the government’s study, “If you’re wrong, the consequences are great.”
For now, time is still on their side.
Dams don’t fall easy.
Read the articles:
Have a nice day.