How long did it take for you to realize there was an ongoing serious problem? How many days had to go by before it occurred the problem was tremendous, huge and that oil, it was going to keep on coming…all the way into shore…all the way into the career of Tony Hayward, splattering it with hydrocarbons and goo…
I don’t know how long it took for Tony to figure any of this out, to really understand the size of the problem in the Gulf back then. This wasn’t Texas City where the various deaths were lamented and then the company moved on, paid a fine…whatever. The eleven dead on the Deepwater Horizon were the least of his problems…the oil, they couldn’t figure out a way to stop the oil…caps and tubes and caps again…
And that Tony, throughout those early months, he just kept talking to the press and putting his foot in it.
“Make things right.” (Now BP would have to back that up, or at least make it look that way in the commercials.)
“I want my life back.” (Oops, boy did he want those two seconds back.)
“I don’t feel that my job is on the line, but that might change.” (Ya think?)
And then he was fired, well kind of. More accurate would be to say he was demoted, large pay cut; he wouldn’t completely get his life back, but he’d get enough to make the mortgage payments and be comfortable…
Well, if you were losing sleep over this, be ready to again get a good night’s rest because Tony’s finally got his life back now…and then some!
“Former BP boss Tony Hayward is set to make £14million from his latest venture – despite presiding over a disaster that wiped £40billion off the oil firm’s share price. Mr Hayward is one of four backers, including financier Nat Rothschild, behind Vallares – a newly created firm that plans to run oil and gas assets around the world. Yesterday the company listed on the London stock market after raising £1.35billion…
…the deal will see Mr Hayward and Mr Rothschild – along with former Goldman Sachs banker Julian Metherell and financier Tom Daniel – make as much as £533million between them if they successfully acquire £8billion of assets.”
Hey Mr. Dudley, how much did you make last year?
Or more importantly, the people along the Gulf, all those dealing with the GCCF and Ken Feinberg in the claims process…with the quick claims, the final and interim claims…how much did you make? How many of you lost jobs, houses, cars, savings? How many of you are suffering from mental health issues, from physical issues?
Well, hopefully this news will lighten your burden, put that skip back in your step and give you one less thing to be worried or depressed about. Yes, everyone can get back to business as usual because Tony Hayward’s doing just fine, better than fine actually…he’s got so much of his life back now, he just bought three more.
Well, hello again MSNBC, CNN, ABC, CBS, NBC and FoxNews!
Welcome back, so glad you have a budget, no…please, tell us how we should feel…what we should think…how to behave…the proper response to misfortune…how gracious we should all be…yes, we have someone who will cry on camera…yes, we can show you the eviction notice…yes, we can also…hey, wait!!!!
British Petroleum released their new Sustainability Report where they went to great lengths to discuss the lessons they learned last summer, and how BP’s Bob Dudley is now all about responsibility. Bob feels it is up to them to “earn back the trust” of all involved and dad-gummit, they’re gonna do it!
In their report, they discuss how BP:
“From the beginning…worked to fight the spill and minimize its impact on the environment,” and how, “These efforts helped to reduce the amount of oil that reached the shore and environmentally sensitive marsh areas.”
Course, what’s missing from the report is any mention of how much oil was released, or any real assessment of how much damage was actually done to the environment or the people who reside on the Gulf Coast.
Umm, not so nice.
Yes, British Petroleum details all the spills they’ve suffered, the volume of oil unleashed, worker fatalities and injuries between the years 2006-2010, all except the oil spilled when the Deepwater Horizon exploded. Those quantities are missing, simply because British Petroleum feels it’s best not to admit to any numbers “due to (their) reluctance to report data that has such a high degree of uncertainty.”
“In the past year, scores of scientists from across the world have poured over data and reviewed video footage of the flow of oil spewing from BP’s busted well on the floor of the Gulf. And by consulting such sources, researchers have offered their own estimates of how much oil entered the Gulf at BP’s behest. What’s more, a vast range of experts who’d been following the spill closely agreed that the U.S. government’s final estimate that BP had released roughly 4.9 million barrels into the Gulf seemed reasonably accurate. BP officials, of course, cried foul and challenged the numbers, just as they did from the first day of the spill onward—they insisted on their own preferred figure of 5,000 barrels per day, which of course made the damage of the spill, and the corporate liability arising from it, seem minimal. Such low-end estimates were conceived, in the words of Fast Company, to “greenwash” the scale of the spill’s impact.”
And perhaps all that uncertainty might explain why Tony Hayward will receive, upon stockholder approval at their April 14th meeting, a stock bonus worth 8 million pounds. You see, he actually did a heckuva job, increased profits, and to beleive the sustainability report, did not preside over the worst oil spill in United States history, leaving his job in disgrace. Word is, however, stockholders aren’t buying it, they’ve seen the press and they know, they know something happened in the Gulf of Mexico, course that was such a long time ago and nobody really reports about it anymore…but still, something happened, right? Stockholders are being urged to vote down the bonus.
But, back to the sustainability report, so why might British Petroleum drop the volume of oil spilled from their report?
Same reason British Petroleum does anything, anything at all.
From a footnote in the report:
“Although there are several third-party estimates of the flow rate of total volume of oil spilled from the Deepwater Horizon incident, we believe that no accurate determination can be made or reported until further information is collected and the analysis, such as the condition of the blowout preventer is completed.”
In other words…BP is unwilling to confirm any of said estimates because they are disputing the numbers, which more than likely has a lot to do with a certain $1100 per barrel fine BP will have to pay under the Clean Water Act.
And since, as mentioned, such estimates are so unreliable, better to just leave it out of their Sustainability Report altogether. How’s that for Dudley’s responsibility, for endearing trust with “actions, not words.”
Really, not so nice…
My guess is Tony Hayward hopes BP continues to fight on, deny, deny, deny…after all, not only the company, but Tony himself has got a lot of money riding on BP’s newest version of “responsibility.”
Or how about that now infamous slogan of British Petroleum’s concerning all things oil spill, that pledge to”make things right.”
Well, as someone who blogs about these subjects, these two statements gave me a lot of mileage. They were tailor-made, a way to give a verbal “screw-you” to the whole damn company every time they inevitably did anything but make things right, or when I mentioned how Gulf Coast residents are far more entitled to get their life back, way more than some narcissist with an inability to shut up like Mr. Hayward.
But, you know…those slogans were getting a little old, a little tired, kind of hard to keep using them in different ways oh-so-many months later, and just when I was starting to get really nervous about what I was going to do as a blogger…well, Bob Dudley goes to the CERA conference and in his apology to his fellow oil and gas industry executives, he spoke of having to regain not only their trust, but the trust of the politicians and the Gulf Coast residents themselves.
And then, Bob uttered the newest catchphrase…saying that British Petroleum gets it, and in order to regain the trust of all, this will require: “Actions, not words.”
Actions, not words…
I couldn’t agree more.
So okay…Bob…if British Petroleum is about actions to regain trust of the Gulf Coast and not just words, then why is British Petroleum reneging on yet another promise?
Turns out that all those boats Bob’s company hired to help cleanup the oil as part of the “Vessels of Opportunity” program are not getting the promised repairs. BP initially told everyone if there were any damages, they’d pay to fix things up, but just like hundreds of thousands of people who have been denied by Feinberg’s GCCF, captains in the Orange Beach area of Alabama are now getting their repair claims denied by BP.
Way to regain trust, moron.
“These boat captains — experts on local waters — were willing and ready to work for BP during the worst days of the oil spill, deploying boom, skimming oil and patrolling for oil sheens and slicks. Despite complaints that local people weren’t always getting first chance at the jobs, the idea of employing the people who were kept from their business of fishing and tourism was sound…(Now) the busiest time of the year for boat owners and captains is again approaching. They need to be out on the water…They made agreements with BP to do a job, and part of those agreements included reimbursements for damages. Instead of living up to its end of the deal, BP seems willing to risk more bad publicity and the possibility that frustrated captains will hire attorneys and file lawsuits.”
“Actions, not words…”
Damn Bob, it’s like when you guys at BP speak, you’re living in this strange self-created reality where you are good, kind, responsible people who care, where the Gulf of Mexico is fine. I understand that in your boardrooms and bedrooms, people automatically take your words as the gospel truth,or at least tell you they do…but out here in the real world, things are a little different. Out here, Bob, most people recognize you for the shameless shyster you are, at the helm of a company who reneges on deals, destroys the environment and is at minimum, partly culpable in the deaths of eleven people in the Gulf.
But, it would seem to you that’s neither here nor there.
“Actions, not words…”
So, I mean, thanks for the new catchphrase…I like it, I think it might be you’re biggest hit yet and I’ll probably hang onto it for awhile…but really Bob, don’t think people don’t realize your slogans are as hollow as your apologies, your integrity and your promises.
The Associated Press reports British Petroleum will survive the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico:
Cleanup, government fines, lawsuits, legal fees and damage claims will likely exceed the $40 billion that BP has publicly estimated, according to an Associated Press analysis. But they’ll be far below the highest estimates made over the summer by legal experts and prominent Wall Street banks, such as Goldman Sachs, which said costs could near $200 billion.
Among the reasons given why British Petroleum will be able to survive is the company has little debt, its global business operations are forecast to earn $26 billion next year, the environmental impact isn’t as bad as once thought and the government would appear unlikely to ban BP from future offshore drilling in the Gulf. And whereas that is certainly good news for the company and its investors, the news for residents of the Gulf Coast isn’t so good…since the oil spill, residents have much more debt with homes sliding into foreclosure. Businesses in the region aren’t generating income with many going bankrupt. Whereas the Associated Press can claim the environmental impact isn’t as severe as it could have been, to all the dead wildlife, the fisherman nervous about eating their own catch, the continued effects of the oil in the water and health effects from dispersant and crude exposure its plenty bad enough, and while the fishing waters have reopened, many are skeptical about Gulf Coast seafood and government and independent scientists continue to battle it out over whether the seafood is safe.
In an interview on Gosztola Blog with Elizabeth Cook, a Gulf Coast resident and lead organizer of a group called Stop the Gulf Oil Disaster, she states that the long-term implications of the emotional, cultural and financial devastation wrought upon the region are that many Gulf Coast residents are considering whether they should leave the region. She cites the many conspiracy theories that abound, from continued spraying of Corexit to government downplaying the amount of oil still washing up on the beaches.
And in a recent article in the New Orleans Times-Picayune, stories abound to display the hardship in the Gulf:
– Daniel Lee, a representative of Boat People SOS states, “I have seen people picking up aluminum cans to supplement their incomes…people have sold their furniture, their TVs, so they can buy food and pay their bills and feed their children. People came out in hundreds waiting in line for the food drive which we organized with the Bay Area Food Bank.”
– Maryal Mewherter, a spokeswoman for Bayou Interfaith Community Organizing, said indigenous people like the Houma Nation members “were left with an uncertainty about being able to return to work, sell their catch or being able to eat any of the seafood from the Gulf of Mexico.”
– In regards to tourism, Keith Overton, chairmen of the board of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association, speaks of the uncertainty overwhelming his industry, “We don’t know how long it’s going to take to restore confidence in people that the Gulf of Mexico is safe.”
– From Louis Skrmetta, owner of a ferry business in Mississippi: “They continue to find oil every day on the barrier islands,” Skrmetta said, and he said that does not bode well for the future of tourism.
But relax everyone because British Petroleum is going to be okay.
Their stock price has risen 63 percent from its post disaster low in June and the investors are returning, confident in its continued climb. Blackrock Investment Management, Managed Account Advisors and Rydex Security Global Investors have more than doubled their holdings in BP stock since this past July and with BP’s assets sales and a predicted return from Feinberg’s managed $20 billion dollar escrow fund…things are looking good and they plan to begin issuing stock dividends again next year.
So again, British Petroleum is going to be just swell…
Tony Hayward got his life back and Bob Dudley is the toast of BP. Wall Street investors have again become comfortable and the national press has gone away so what America don’t know, can’t hurt them and the importance of that cannot be stressed enough.
After all, ecosystems and people come and go, but big business is forever.
Yeah, he said it, not kidding, while giving a speech to students at the Cambridge University Society and several explanations immediately come to mind:
1. He and Jane Lubchenco of the NOAA are still spending way too much time together.
2. He figured that if doing a tour can work for GW Bush, why not him?
3. The American press isn’t paying attention anymore so now he can really say whatever he wants.
4. He’s got this job in a Russian narco-state and if he needs to disappear, he’s got some new friends to help make that happen.
5. He’s an out of touch narcissist making a desperate attempt to convince himself that really, he’s an all right bloke, and all he has to do is say the oil is gone enough times so that not only will he eventually believe it, but due to his importance in world affairs and events (the focal point don’t ya know) the world will believe it too, after all, he’s Tony Bloody Hayward and don’t you forget it!
So, couple of days ago, Mr. Hayward was questioned about British Petroleum’s safety record in England by the MPs and apparently, he had more to say to his local pol’s then he did when Congress had their go a few months back, you remember, when he gave an hour-long version of “Oh, I didn’t know.”
This time around, he offered up these gems:
In discussing all BP had spent on safety previous to the Deepwater Horizon Explosion that killed eleven men, “And it is undeniably the fact that because of all of that, this particular incident is so devastating to me personally because we have made an enormous amount of progress (on safety) in that three-year period.”
He also denied that cost cutting had anything to do with the disaster, despite all the money they saved by making risky choices in constructing the Deepwater Horizon, telling MPs “safety is the first call on every dollar BP invests. Before we invest in anything, we invest in safety”.
Okay kids…please turn your heads…
Please…allow me to express my opinion here, just for a moment, just a second or two, just a few comments about you and your company’s “safety.”
First off…are you serious? Fuck you.
Second…safety comes first out of every dollar you spend?
I for one would hate to see what happens when it is second, third, or fourth. Had that been the case, rather than spilling 4.1 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, you might have found some way to dump some substance even more toxic to make the whole oil spill even worse…something like, oh…I don’t know…Corexit. Yeah, that really would have fucked it all up.
Oh, and personally devastating to you?
I don’t give a goddamn if you obsess yourself blind every minute of every day for the rest of your life, or at least to the point of insanity, you pathetic, personality disordered narcissist. Course, a personality disorder makes a hell of a lot of sense as anyone who works in the mental health field understands the first point of a personality disorder is the person will have zero insight into their disorder, and the way you keep uttering these wholly inappropriate statements of personal pain and loss definitely indicates an asshole with zero insight.
But, I suppose I could concede one point, your oh so fucking hard work on your safety record over the past three years…yeah, that.
When your company blew up the refinery in Texas, fifteen people were killed…and this time, when the oil rig blew up, only eleven died so yeah, I guess that could be considered improvement…except for the fact that in the past three years you jack-holes have racked up over 750 safety fines by OSHA while Exxon had…one. One? Versus 750?
I haven’t been so disgusted with you fucking oil guys since that prick of a failed oilman from Crawford Texas got elected president and then sat back jacking while the city of New Orleans drowned. Yes Tony, you know him; he’s the one responsible for deregulating everything at MMS…but back to OSHA, in two separate disasters prior to the Deepwater Horizon, 30 BP workers were killed and over 200 injured, and your refineries in Texas and Ohio? They are responsible for 97% of the “egregious and willful” safety violations handed out in the past three years by OSHA.
97% of the safety violations.
Zero insight. You have zero.
And Mr. Hayward? Just in case your statements are some craptacular attempt to try to rewrite history through the wonders of repetition, through the unquestioned reporting of your distorted, bullshit words as fact by members of the mainstream media…let’s repeat this again: 3 BP accidents – 41 workers dead. BP – 760 safety violations by OSHA. Two refineries owned by BP – 97% of willful and egregious safety violations handed out by OSHA over the past three years.
Over the past five months, Gulf Coast residents have been treated to a number of decisions with direct impact on their lives. They weren’t asked to give input at the time these decisions were made. They weren’t asked how they thought it might affect their future. The decisions occurred above their heads and most times, without their knowledge, but they are the ones now paying the price. This post is the third of three parts having to do with these decisions. Part one addressed British Petroleum’s use of the dispersant, Corexit while two took issue with Bobby Jindal, the Shaw Group and their sand berms. Part three will be concerned with the federal government’s response to the spill, including the amount of control ceded, and protection given to British Petroleum. All three will address the issue of the courage necessary to change course in the Gulf, the importance of doing so and who will be affected. All three decisions to be looked at had to do with money and politics, and changing course now will affect the back accounts and political standing of the people in charge, but change must happen.
What is going on in the Gulf of Mexico is not working.
On October 1st, Thad Allen, National Incident Commander will step down from his post, thus ending one of the biggest illusions of this whole oil spill, that the Obama administration was in charge of the response. For the past five months, the American public in general and Gulf Coast residents in particular have been held hostage by the dictates of a foreign corporation while the government’s two figureheads, Thad Allen and President Obama talked tough about responses and made threats against British Petroleum. We listened as the EPA gave orders that were either ignored or largely circumvented by the oil company and rubber stamped by Thad Allen. At times, the Coast Guard was even complicit in the unethical behavior of the company. We watched as the FDA declared the seafood to be safe. We watched as the NOAA released numbers indicating the oil was gone.
These actions by our government leads one to question whether they worked in the Gulf to protect the people, or to protect the oil company.
From the beginning, when the Deepwater Horizon exploded, the damage being caused was minimized. We were told that only 5000 barrels per day were leaking into the gulf when it turned out to be between 50 and 60,000. We were told that Corexit was safe as dish soap when it turns out that cleanup workers at the Exxon Valdez suffered health effects stemming from the mix of crude oil and the dispersant. In early August the NOAA released their oil spill numbers that claimed 79% of the oil was gone, trumpeted to early morning television shows when in fact, the oil report said the opposite, wasn’t supposed to be publicly released and had never been reviewed by the scientists they claimed helped to author the report. All over the Gulf Coast, British Petroleum had been denying reporters access to the Gulf, were hiring off duty police officers to keep the press away and in several occasions taking the footage shot by photographers of spilled oil and dying wildlife. Thad Allen initially denied these reports, but then released the much ballyhooed 60 yard boom rule where all reporters had to stay sixty yards from any boom due to fictional reports of the press disrupting cleanup activities. BP started buying up scientists and the government followed suit, for the stated reason of legal defense or prosecution, but with the intended purpose of silencing them and their findings. The EPA ordered BP to stop using Corexit as too toxic and ineffective. BP said no. The EPA backed down while the Coast Guard said BP could only use it when approved, and then they approved it every time they were asked. Most recently, independent scientists who are coming to radically difficult conclusions about the remaining oil, the safety of the water and seafood are being allegedly harassed by the federal oil spill commission.
All of this has led to a tremendous amount of doubt in the public, stuck trying to choose between the words of the oil company that fouled their waters, the government that has been caught repeatedly spinning information and the independent scientists who are questioned in the press by the oil company and the government.
This doubt, this confusion, it all works in favor of the parties who refuse to release their information, their data, their numbers and that would be BP and the Obama Administration, because as the independent scientists give out their facts and figures to prove why their findings are true: oil on the Gulf floor, shifting oil plumes, etc… confusion and spin is all the government has left. They need to keep the waters muddied so they can hold onto their numbers, desperately trying to maintain a claim over any sort of validity.
And all for obvious and not so obvious reasons as it will come as little surprise to anyone that good news in the Gulf of Mexico is good news for the Gulf’s politicians and this is even better news for the federal government as a whole. Like British Petroleum, the government wants to ease the Gulf and its problems from the collective American conscience or at the very least, believe that it is quickly on the mend. This is why despite the tough initial rhetoric from Barack Obama, the actions of the government continue to help the oil company.
The two are linked, financially and politically.
In fiscal year, 2009, British Petroleum was the top supplier of oil to the US military, receiving contracts in excess of $2.2 billion dollars. This year, they have received over $1.1 billion from seventeen different contracts with the DLA, (Defense Logistics Agency) and have even been awarded contracts since the Deepwater Horizon exploded. Mimi Schirmacher, a DLA spokesperson has gone on record saying the DLA has no plans to change these contracts or change the way they are awarded.
In the US, the retirement account pensions for 42 separate states hold shares in British Petroleum Stock and since the oil spill, they have been losing money, a lot of money. In June, well before BP’s stock had hit its lowest stock price mid-July, these pensions had already lost $1.4 billion dollars. This loss is in addition to the previous year’s loss which occurred due to the recession. British Petroleum’s recovery will get this money back so the federal government has a vested interest in ensuring that British Petroleum does not fail. This is why assets aren’t seized. This is why Obama’s tough rhetoric is empty. This is the oil company version of the bank’s “too big to fail.”
Blackrock corporation is the largest shareholder of British Petroleum stock and they have many links to the US government as well. During the banking crisis, they took over $130 billion dollars in toxic assets that the US government had assumed during the too big to fail banking crisis. Blackrock CEO, Larry Fink is oft considered the go-to guy for financial answers by the feds, consulted frequently and his company holds as money management clients the New York Fed, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. When British Petroleum loses money, Blackrock loses money and this cannot be considered good for the federal government.
Politically, the pressure is also on. Gulf Coast politicians like Bobby Jindal have been blasting away in the press at the Obama administration’s competency during the cleanup and his voice is only one of many across the Gulf Coast, from Texas to Florida…and just in case any of us forgot, elections are coming. Barack Obama needs good news. Good news means votes. Lack of progress means much criticism in states like Louisiana and Florida, states where the Democrats sometimes win elections. Open fisheries mean votes for congressional elections. FDA approval of seafood? Votes. EPA reports the air is safe, the water is safe and the people are safe? Votes. The NOAA says that 79% of the oil is gone? This progress is huge, this progress is a campaign advertisement.
Money and politics, politics and money…same – same.
And now we are finding out it isn’t just the residents in the Gulf who are paying attention to the Fed’s tricky balance.
So is British Petroleum.
If the government was as hard-lined as they want people to believe, British Petroleum would have been far less likely to demand more oil leases in the Gulf and then suggest the $20 billion escrow account for reparation would be in jeopardy without them. British Petroleum has done pretty much as it wished in the Gulf of Mexico from the beginning. They used prison labor to clean up beaches. There are many allegations cleanup workers didn’t have respirators. They used a more toxic and dangerous dispersant that helped submerge the oil, rather than remove it. They controlled the press. They controlled the story and the Obama administration let them do it all and in many occasions, assisted, thus leading to confusion, bad information and a loss of credibility.
This credibility is only one of the things that must change in the Gulf of Mexico.
As things stand now, the government’s numbers and estimates and projections have frequently been so far off base that it is difficult to readily accept much of what they say. For example, right now the US government is in possession of the damaged blow-out preventer from the Macondo Well. I find it difficult to believe that I am the only one who would question the results of their tests on the preventer, especially if it points the blame away from BP. The government has sewn this doubt over the past five months, and it is time for them to start on a new path, one that may be more painful, but at least it will be honest.
To restore this credibility, the government must release their science and explain their numbers. If they know that their number do not add up, then they need to admit that now; they need to admit their mistakes, in detail and maybe even apologize so this can all move forward. They must release the scientists to research what they wish, and have the funding of British Petroleum and the federal government to do it. Information and data right now are not the enemy; the enemies of justice and ethics in the Gulf of Mexico are those who withhold information to suit their own agendas.
The federal government must assume control of the cleanup.
British Petroleum has stated on several occasions that their company wouldn’t be using dispersants anymore, but their contractors, if they are, should stop. This is a typical loophole of the practices in the Gulf. If BP won’t guarantee their contractors have stopped, then it is time for BP to be stopped. Kick them to the sidelines and bill them for everything. The Obama administration needs to marry itself to this cleanup. No wiggle room, no fall guy, no we didn’t know’s. Own it, and then do it right.
Charge British Petroleum in criminal court.
Want to help ensure that nobody unleashes another catastraphuk like this again? Put those responsible in prison. Eleven men died out there, and many more indirectly by way of suicide, accident or what have you, put BP in prison. If all the investigations and court hearings result only in fines these companies can absorb or just pass onto the public in increased prices, no message has been learned. None. I believe that future CEO’s would be much more careful about the practices of their companies if in response to the greatest environmental disaster ever, the CEO and those responsible of said company didn’t just get transitioned to a new job in Russia that allows him to lose, nothing.
Free the information, now.
It’s okay Barack, we’re adults. We can take it. Tell us just how fucked up all this is now. Don’t spin, don’t distort, release the information and be honest, despite the political cost. It’s okay.
It’s not only the emperor who would appreciate being told about the new clothes.
So would your constituents.
Votes, or not.
Justice and dignity demand at least this much.
For five months we have watched all the events in the Gulf of Mexico: the dodges of responsibility, the fish kills, the oil, the false Feinbergian promises. We have watched the poisoning of an ecosystem and people in authority making decisions far over the heads of those affected directly by these decisions. In question is who rules the water, British Petroleum or the United States Government? The company our government does so much business with, or the officials we elect? We have watched the bullshit, we have experienced the doubt.
Obama, you ran on a campaign of hope.
So how about bringing some if it to the Gulf of Mexico, a place where it indeed is, time for change.
In the past five months, Gulf Coast residents have been treated to a number of decisions with direct impact on their lives. They weren’t asked to give input at the time these decisions were made. They weren’t asked how they thought it might affect their future. The decisions occurred above their heads and most times, without their knowledge, but they are the ones now paying the price. This post is the first of three parts having to do with these decisions. Part one will address British Petroleum’s use of the dispersant, Corexit while two and three will be concerned with Bobby Jindal’s sand berms and the federal government’s response, including the amount of control ceded to British Petroleum. All three will address the issue of the courage necessary to change course in the Gulf, the importance of doing so and who will be affected. All three decisions to be looked at had to do with money and politics, and changing course now will affect the back accounts and political standing of the people in charge, but change must happen.
What is going on in the Gulf of Mexico is not working.
In late April, when British Petroleum realized the mess they were dealing with, they quickly had to make a choice in the way they were going to fight the oil. Their primary method could be through skimmers and boom, or the use of dispersants. Ultimately, they chose both but soon began to rely more and more on the dispersant Corexit, a product manufactured in Illinois by Nalco Corp. While the now CEO of BP, Bob Dudley, referred to Corexit as being no more toxic than dish soap, several other countries and the EPA disagreed, with its use being banned through most of Europe and the EPA initially informing BP they had to find a different dispersant to use because Corexit was too toxic. British Petroleum refused the EPA, saying they had no other option. This wasn’t necessarily true as the maker of a chemical, “Dispersit,” stated he could be making upwards of 60,000 gallons a day while his product was both more effective against Louisiana Crude and the EPA had found it far less toxic. So, why would BP use the dispersants at all and why insist on Corexit?
A number of reasons exist, including keeping the oil from the sensitive marshland and off the beaches, which is the reason most commonly given by those in charge of the cleanup. But also worth looking at again, for a moment are the money and politics involved.
Oil effectively sunk and not collected cannot be counted, and BP cannot be fined. Sunken oil also doesn’t necessarily require a cleanup crew, boats and boom and the disposal of tainted equipment, all quite expensive. As evidenced by the quick cutback of boats hired by BP to combat the oil, British Petroleum was saving money by announcing the ships were no longer necessary as there were no slicks to skim. From a PR/political point of view sunken oil also cannot be photographed, which means the media cannot splash pictures of the damage across televisions, computers and newspapers worldwide.
It’s also worthwhile to take another look at Nalco Corp, the producers of Corexit. Rodney Chase sits on the board of Nalco and previously he had been a BP board member for 35 years. Two of the primary owners of Nalco, purchased in 2003, are Goldman Sachs and Blackstone, and when Corexit’s use in the Gulf became public, Nalco’s stock prices understandably jumped. Meanwhile, as the catastraphuk unfolded, British Petroleum’s stock was falling and there were concerns among its corporate structure that BP might become subject of a hostile takeover. The company reached out to two banks for help in fending off such actions. These two banks were Goldman Sachs and Blackstone, the same two companies profiting off BP’s use of Corexit. It would stand to reason that BP’s continued use of the dispersant, as opposed to a less toxic and more effective brand may have had something to do with its ties to Nalco, Goldman Sachs and Blackstone. It should also be noted that at one time, Blackstone partnered with the financial company, Blackrock who is currently estimated to be British Petroleum’s largest stockholder.
As of this writing, over two million gallons of Corexit have been dumped into the Gulf of Mexico. No long-range studies have ever been completed to detail the effects of Corexit on the environment, and no corporation has ever dumped as much of the dispersant as BP has poured into the Gulf. British Petroleum continues to play down and/or deny the harmful effects of Corexit. They have also maintained that as of July 19th, not only has it no longer been used, but it was only used far out in the Gulf near the site of the former Deepwater Horizon…but now the science is coming in, as are eye-witnesses…and they are telling a rather different story. Despite Nalco and BP’s claims that Corexit biodegrades largely in 28 days, it continues to be found in the Gulf of Mexico. More alarmingly, it is being found in inshore waters, near the beaches and in a Floridian’s swimming pool north of Tampa. The Gulf’s ecosystem is becoming more susceptible to massive fish kills and people across the Gulf Coast, not just cleanup workers, but residents are getting sick. They have found evidence that Corexit is bio-accumulating in the food chain and some scientists claim its use will have stretched out the damage to the ecosystem for decades to come.
So, what needs to happen now?
First, British Petroleum needs to completely stop using Corexit.
They claim they already have but when asked about eyewitness accounts of its continued use by contractors, the company has hedged on this claim. BP mobile incident commander Keith Salhan said on August 23rd, “We are not using dispersants and haven’t been for some time,” but when asked about their contractor’s activities, went on to say, “We have lots of contractors, but no one should be using them. If they are, we need to know about it and stop it.” So why does it appear that BP is not attempting to find out? I find it difficult to believe that BP is completely unaware as numerous photos have appeared of Corexit containers on the docks of their contractors. If photographers can find evidence, it stands to reason the company that actually hires the contractors should be able to as well.
Second, we need openness and honesty.
British Petroleum and the Government’s silencing of scientists behind confidentiality clauses needs to end. Doctors in the Gulf Coast need all the information they can get to treat people. There are numerous reports that medical professionals are being pressured to remain quiet about illnesses attributable to exposure from Corexit and crude oil, but they are now finding these chemicals in people’s bloodstream. The chemicals in Corexit and crude oil are known carcinogens and people aren’t being given the facts about health effects. Both the government and British Petroleum appear to be lining up for what is sure to be an epic legal battle, but these legalities are keeping the information suppressed, are building up seeds of doubt in everyone’s minds about what is true and not true, about what is harmful and what isn’t. This all needs to end. While they argue about money, an entire ecosystem and the people who live in and near it are at risk.
Third, the no sue clause needs to be lifted in Ken Feinberg’s final payout scheme.
Potential health effects are not currently, completely known. By denying people the right to sue later if they accept payments from the $20 billion dollar escrow, they could be denying people the right for proper medical care later down the road, when the true effects of all these poisons currently in the Gulf are known.
Yesterday it was announced that British Petroleum had funded a study of these health effects, pledging 10 million dollars to the National Institute of health and where that is a good start, they make no promises on making right what is found by the studies funded by their grant money. Also, the question is being rightfully asked, what strings are attached to these funds, will the scientists who participate be denied the right to testify to their findings should they so choose?
These simple thoughts and suggestions, if enacted could possibly cost BP, Goldman Sachs, Nalco, Blackstone and many other organizations and people a great deal of money and prestige.
But I offer that more important are the people of the Gulf Coast.
We don’t know the full effects of this catastraphuk and won’t completely understand this for some time, but we might know faster and quite possibly have a better idea on how to better mitigate the damage done if information and data were widely shared, openly, without concern for legal ramifications. And please, BP, how about making sure your contractors stop using Corexit? I know that these suggestions seem quite impossible, but it doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be said nor does it mean they shouldn’t be called for.
British Petroleum is a corporation, one made of people and it is time for those people to do the right thing, the moral thing. It is time to focus more on the cost to families and not the cost to the shareholders. It is time for BP to not just say they are taking full responsibility, but to show the courage necessary to mean it.
I thought emergency relief payments were to be issued within 48 hours, the blow out preventer was coming to the surface, British Petroleum’s internal investigation had found itself innocent, Corexit was biodegrading, the oil plumes had disappeared, the Gulf’s waters were being reopened because all was clear, nobody was really getting sick, fishermen were happily returning to work, Bob Dudley had just been appointed British Petroleum Pope of all things efficient and green, while Barack Obama was born in a manger under a shiny star, and presented gifts of crab, shrimp and oysters by horse-riding representatives of the FDA, NOAA and the EPA on the new Christmas of August 29th.
Apparently, something went wrong.
Man, you leave the news cycle for five days and the official narrative officially goes to shit.
Oil is being found in the Mississippi Sound, a place that has recently been reopened for fishing by Mississippi’s DMR in coordination with the NOAA and the FDA. Oil is also being found in Pensacola Bay, Grand Isle and any number of other areas. In Pensacola Bay last week, BP officials were denying the reports of found oil until the Pensacola News Journal was supplied with two of the company’s own reports to the county about their cleanup efforts. One of the local fisherman, working for BP was quoted in the article saying, “BP says it’s all gone, but it’s not. I’ve known it was out there for a month. We were recovering it in a boat … scooping it up out of sand and dumping it into bags. They’re just trying to keep it quiet. Out of sight, out of mind.”
And, it isn’t only the oil that refuses to go away quietly, the dispersant Corexit also staged a triumphant return and not only in the Gulf of Mexico, now its being found in swimming pools. As reported on Florida Oil Spill Law:“Our heads are still swimming,” stated Barbara Schebler of Homosassa, Florida, who received word last Friday that test results on the water from her family’s swimming pool showed 50.3 ppm of 2-butoxyethanol, a marker for the dispersant Corexit 9527A used to break up and sink BP’s oil in the Gulf of Mexico. The Scheblers report a history of rashes, diarrhea, sick pets and children, and their neighbors are complaining of similar symptoms, some of whom don’t want to go on record. Nalco, the company that produces Corexit states their product largely biodegrades in 28 days, and since British Petroleum says they have not used Corexit since July 19th and yet the water in the pool was tested on August 18th it would certainly appear that someone is being less than truthful about not only the oil in Pensacola Bay, but the use of the dispersant, let alone near the coast and/or its properties.
Speaking of illness, the Alabama Press Register is reporting that so far 197 people have been treated for oil related health issues, a number that continues to rise despite Obama’s friendly swim a few weeks back. The President, of course would seem to have outstanding health care, being president and all, while the 197 families thus far affected? Many of them, not so much. Oh yeah, and the state of Alabama recently filed suit against British Petroleum and Transocean for attempting to cover up the oil’s effects and their use of Corexit, done without fully understanding the environmental impact of two million gallons of poison being dumped into the water and not near the coast.
The wildlife apparently ain’t doing so well either; miles of dead fish were discovered in lower Plaquemines Parish at the mouth of the Mississippi River. This accompanies several other reports of similar kills throughout the Gulf. Dr. Cake, a biological oceanographer feels they are directly related to the BP catastraphuk, and the combination of oil and dispersants throughout the water column. Meanwhile, despite the Louisiana DHH releasing a seafood safety report that found no evidence of oil in the seafood, tests performed by independent scientists are coming to very different conclusions, discovering unhealthy contamination in Louisiana oyster and crab sampled in Louisiana’s Atchafayala Bay, Pass-a-Loutre and Redfish Bay. It is results like these why many fishermen are refusing to trawl for shrimp and why two of Coastal Alabama’s foremost marine experts, Dauphin Island Sea Lab Director George Crozier and Robert Shipp, chairman of the University of South Alabama’s Marine Sciences Department are saying the submerged oil is threatening organisms that form the basic building blocks of the food chain.
Oh yeah, and remember when BP reported that BP’s internal investigation of BP had found BP innocent of the Deepwater Horizon explosion? Well, not so fast according to Reuters. The news agency now reports that BP’s internal probe has placed some of the blame on mistakes made by its engineers, claiming they misread pressure data that indicated a blowout was imminent. British Petroleum has also apparently discovered the value of hiring contractors. By use of contractors, British Petroleum can maintain that when cleanup workers aren’t paid, or people charge they are still using Corexit, BP can say well, we would never do such a thing, but our contractors might.
Oh, and it isn’t only cleanup workers notbeing paid. Ken Feinberg’s much ballyhooed claim that all would receive their emergency payments within 48 hours, yeah…that didn’t happen either. Amy Weiss, Feinberg’s spokesperson acknowledged there have been some delays, “In the first few weeks…we may be short of our 48-hour goal,” Weiss said in an e-mail.
This is not the way I left things five days ago; this is a sad state of affairs.
We got sick people, dead fish, oil in the water and dispersants in swimming pools. BP’s denying, then admitting and when they can’t figure anything else out, they blame it on contractors. Oil’s everywhere, the seafood, the marshes, the beaches, the seafloor and floating through the water in the water column. The blowout preventer hasn’t been raised. Seafood safety is still in doubt. Cleanup workers aren’t getting paid. Corexit is apparently still being used. And to top it all off, Feinberg’s much heralded 48 hour payments are behind, giving Gulf Coast residents precisely what they didn’t need right now, yet another public figure in this Catastraphuk who didn’t live up to his words.
Is it time yet to declare the official version, that all is well and/or rapidly improving in the Gulf of Mexico officially dead?
Sure would seem so.
So, in light of all these recent events, I feel it only fair to issue a warning:
To all those in charge, or not in charge depending on the investigation, my next vacation is in two months. These last five days I’ve been away have really gone badly for you so by October 30th, you all probably want to get your story straight.
I don’t want to come back again to more bad news. I don’t want to have to start taking this personal.
Who knows, when I get back next time on November 2nd, I could be reading how Bob Dudley secretly collects Hitler propaganda while beating his wife and Barack Obama was actually born in Kenya after all, secretly brought to Hawaii under cover of night by the EPA in a Coast Guard plane that is spraying dispersant even where they don’t find oil, you know…just for fun.
So guys, if you can’t get the Gulf right, can you at least start telling the truth? About anything?