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Spill Baby Spill?


By Kelly Thomas - Posted on 03 May 2010

First of all, my thoughts and prayers go out to those injured and missing due to the oil rig explosion (link from NPR.) What a horrible human tragedy.

What will be the environmental and political implications of this huge oil spill disaster? Newsweek describes some of the facts and fallout.

Now BP, formerly known as British Petroleum, finds itself blamed forwhat could prove to be the worst oil spill in U.S. history. And onlyweeks after Obama announced an ambitious plan to open up more U.S.offshore waters to oil drilling, shunting aside environmental concernsfrom his own Democratic Party, his administration is facing acomeuppance from hell. "There was a lot of wishful thinking, I guess,"says Villy Kourafalou, a scientist at the University of Miami'sRosensteil School of Marine and Atmospheric Science. "The newtechnologies were said to be so wonderful that we'd never have an oilspill again." Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), who had sought to block theexpanded drilling, says the oil and gas industry was pushing this ideahard. "They said, 'We'll never have a repeat of Santa Barbara,'?"referring to the 1969 rig explosion off the California coast. Both theBush and Obama administrations "were buying the line that thetechnology was fine," Pallone adds.

BP pressed hardto make that point in D.C. Its PR efforts included payments of $16million last year to a battery of Washington lobbyists, among them thefirm of Tony Podesta, the brother of former Obama transition chief JohnPodesta. Last fall, after the U.S. Interior Department proposed tighterfederal regulation of oil companies' environmental programs, DavidRainey, BP's vice president for Gulf of Mexico exploration, toldCongress that the proposal was unnecessary. "I think we need toremember," he said, that offshore drilling "has been going on for thelast 50 years, and it has been going on in a way that is both safe andprotective of the environment."

Now those who waxed confident about offshore drilling are running forcover, and there are major questions about whether the Obama drillingplan will have to be shelved. The administration also sought to dispelany comparisons to the Bush administration's laggard response afterHurricane Katrina. For nearly a week, from the fatal explosion thatsank the oil rig on April 22 until April 28, the government appeared toaccept BP's estimate of a 1,000-barrel-per-day spill, when it was atleast five times worse. "I'm surprised that there weren't more robuststandby procedures in place," says John Parry of IHS Herold, anenergy-research firm. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and HomelandSecurity Secretary Janet Napolitano noted that most of the earlyefforts had been devoted to rescuing the 11 missing oil workers.

From CNN. While Rush Limbaugh and others try to paint this as "Obama's Katrina," President Obama is pushing back hard, describing his vast efforts thus far and promising "relentless" support.

Venice, Louisiana (CNN) -- President Obama said Sunday hisadministration has mounted a "relentless response" to the oil spillunleashed by the sinking of an offshore drill rig in the Gulf of Mexico.

Obamamet with local, state and federal officials involved in the cleanup insoutheastern Louisiana, the closest stretch of coastline threatened bythe massive spill. Afterward, he said that despite "the most advancedtechnology available," the spill may not be stopped for many days.

"I'mnot going to rest, and none of the gentlemen and women who are here aregoing to rest or be satisfied, until the leak is stopped at the source,the oil on the Gulf is contained and cleaned up and the people of thisregion are able to go back to their lives and their livelihoods," hesaid. "We will spare no resource to clean up whatever damage iscaused."

Obama met with the commandant of the Coast Guard,Adm. Thad Allen; EPA administrator Lisa Jackson; Louisiana Gov. BobbyJindal; and the presidents of several parish governments afterarriving, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said. The president'sbriefing included an update on the procedures being attempted to capthe well and the economic and environmental impact of the spill, Gibbssaid.

Krugman's take? The Environment may "be back on the map" as a priority. Will it make the "environmentalist wackos" seem much less wacko?

It took futuristic technology to achieve one of the worst ecologicaldisasters on record. Without such innovation, after all, BP couldn’thave drilled the Deepwater Horizon well in the first place. Yet forthose familiar with environmental history, the catastrophe in the Gulfof Mexico has a strangely old-fashioned feel, reminiscent of the eventsthat led to the first Earth Day, four decades ago.

And maybe,just maybe, the disaster will help reverse environmentalism’s longpolitical slide in the United States — a slide largely caused by ourvery success in alleviating highly visible pollution. If so, there maybe a small silver lining to a very dark cloud.

I thought this recent Olberman youtube video was worth showing.

Suzi-I am interested in your take on this since it hits so close to home for you.


 

 


 

 



 

I don't mean to be all doom and gloom, but this is a catastrophe.  Dead fish and sea turtles have already started washing ashore in Mississippi.  It is only a matter of time before dolphins and other large sea mammals start washing ashore.   

I was hoping that the spill wouldn't be this bad, but I can now see that this is going to be one of the worst ecological disasters ever.  Millions of gallons of oil has been pumped into the Gulf, mixing with the saltwater and creating a frothy toxic blend that is absolutely lethal to animals.  Plus, the leak is just going to keep pumping out millions of gallons because BP won't be able to stop the leak for at least two months.  Then, wait until Hurricane season begins.        

I don't know if anyone else saw this, but the CEO of BP was on the Today Show this morning and he declared that the rig wasn't owned by them (owned by Transocean), so the explosion and faulty technologies are not BP's responsibility.  However, they owned the oil that the rig pulled up, so they'll work to clean up the spill.  They guy came off as a real sleazeball.  

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Having been poor is no shame, but being ashamed of it, is. 

-- Benjamin Franklin

Jake, hurricane season starts in less than a month.  It won't take a full blown hurricane to make this worse.  A tropical storm will push more and more oil to the coast.  Since the spill began, the weather conditions in the Gulf have prevented the use of normal containment methods..booms, skimming, burning etc.   I am so angry, heartbroken and worried.  My state and the entire Gulf Coast has taken a real beating from Mother Nature the last few years.  Now corporate greed is piling on.

Thank you Izzy, for writing this.  I've tried several times to blog on this, and my thoughts and emotions are too jumbled for me to write a coherent piece.  Thanks for doing a wonderful job at that.  I'm going to ramble here (then you'll see why I couldn't blog it), and anyone can ask any questions or for clarification.

I'm about 60 miles from the coast, as the crow flies, and we have been smelling it for days.  It smells like a combination of dirty ditch water and tar.  UGH

As horrid as the ecological impact will be, it's even worse than you think.  Did you know that 70% of all domestic shrimp come from the spill area?  Over 60% or oysters.   Our coast is marshlands and barrier islands, not a shore.  These marshes are the breeding grounds for shrimp, so not only this year's catch, but for years to come may be ruined.  The worst case scenario predictions are for 20 years. 

NOW...There is an entire economy in south Louisiana built around the commercial fishing industry.  The fishermen themselves, charter fishing, the businesses that service them, and the businesses that depend on them spending their money.  To the east in Mississippi, Alabama etc, the coastlines are beautiful white beaches with economies built around tourism.  We're talking MAJOR economic impact here.

So we have the horrible environmental impact so well described by Jake, and a huge economic impact at a time when people are struggling anyway.  We have family and friends directly affected by this, and believe me, it's major!

I wish I'd seen the BP guy on the today show. (If anyone has a link, please post it)  BP has been disgusting in so many ways since the explosion, and getting worse by the day.  They hired some of the out of work fishermen to help in clean up, and had them sign a contract.  The contract had the fishermen agree not to sue BP in return for helping BP clean up their own damn mess, in return for a job and a one time payment of $5,000.  Some helpful lawyers have jumped on this, and BP is now calling that contract an "early misstep"!! 

Guess who else is deeply involved, and it's NOT getting much press coverage at all?  My mission is to expose them.  HALLIBURTON!!!  They are responsible for the failed part, and had serviced it just before the explosion. Oh, the same part was responsible for the Australian spill last year, and Halliburton had serviced that part shortly before their explosion too. 

There is a safety device that could have prevented this.  That device would have cost $500,000.  It was not used while BP posted profits in the billions.  I am sick and tired of greed being the determining factor in everything, all the time.  As Lesley said, greed is going to destroy civilization.

Ok, please bear with me as I take my turn rambling.  My head is spinning and my heart is hurting...

First of all, I'd like to say to BP...  Take note: Life might move at a slower pace & differently down here in Louisiana than what you are used to.  However,  we are not nearly as dumb as you seem to think we are. It's time to treat our people with the respect & dignity we deserve. By sheer negligence and greed...YOU have taken away thousands upon thousands upon thousands of people's livelihood. Then, you want THEM to do your dirty work, cleaning up YOUR mess and then hand them a slimy $5,000.  Seriously???  Exactly who the hell do you think you are??   And, do you know the strength, reslience, determination and PASSION of the people (like myself & my family)  who are so very proud to call Louisiana home?????  Apparently not.  Hint: You don't want a bunch of pissed of Cajuns on your bad side.

Thankfully, I was watching CNN this morning and saw an interview with a lawyer representing some Louisiana fishermen.  He said they/we won a huge victory in court yesterday when a judge sided with the Louisiana fishermen regarding  these "B.S." contracts that BP was trying to get them to sign.  Apparently these so called contracts with that shameful clause in it regarding a one  time payment of $5,000 will NOT stand up in court.  I'm going to try to find the interview online and post it. 

As Chance mentioned in his amazing post, several dead turtles have already washed on shore.  They are going to start "testing" them today to see if they died as a result of the oil spill disaster.  Seriously???  What a freaking waste of money.  OF COURSE  THE OIL SPILL KILLED THEM.  As a general rule, we don't have large groups of sea life washing on our shores DEAD.  Give me a freaking break. 

My PawPaw & uncle are commercial fishermen and also run air boats in the marsh down here.  They  & their families will likely lose everything they have that they worked SO hard for.  And trust me, when I tell you that they didn't have A LOT, but are hard working, honest, proud people.  To see this happen to them literally breaks my heart and makes me angrier than I have quite possibly ever been.  

As awful & devestating as Hurricanes Katrina & Gustav were, they were NATURAL disasters and could not be avoided or stopped.  This disaster is MAN made.  It was made by & caused by GREED.  With every fiber of my being I believe that GREED will be the downfall of our civilization.  Thank you GEORGE BUSH and your evil side kick DICK CHENEY.  I lay this at your feet.  Enjoy all the $$$$$$$$ you made literally at the expense of everyone and every thing else.  There is a special place reserved in hell for you.

I'm going to stop now. I thought about going back and editing this post because it is SO raw & angry.  BUT it is also REAL.  I LOVE my state, our people and our special world we have down here.  I have never, in all of my 39 years, been more proud to be a Louisianaian.  Love to you all!  And please keep praying for Louisiana and all of the Gulf Coast.

"I SO voted for Barack Obama!  10/25/08"

I for one am glad you didn't edit your post...It's from the heart and the gut, expressing how most of us down here feel (with the exception of the big oil people).  

I'm sick and tired of greed, big business' huge profits, and deregulation destroying life for the rest of us. 

I too am glad that you didn't edit your post.

I hope the best for you and your family.  I hope that BP (and Halliburton) get nailed to the wall, even though fuel prices will go up.  People can't adequately recompense the natural life that is devastated, but the people who are harmed should get decent renumeration for the damages to them.  

This situation illustrates the fortunately rare but very real costs of current carbon based energy sources.

It has also encouraged me to pull the bike from the garage and get back to pedaling my way about town.  I feel that the vast majority of us share responsibility, in that we use more energy than we actually need to and don't press harder for more support to study the problems of wind and sun power.

 

My heart goes out to Suzi and Leslie and all those impacted directly. As if you have not gone through enough. Your anger is utterly justified. As you mention, so many things and people will be effected (fishing industry, tourism, etc.) not to mention the innocent animals, sea life, and our overall environment. You just can't put a pricetag on such a disaster. My heart truly breaks when I think of the massive devastation. And all the responsible parties want to do is point fingers of blame and pay people off instead of owning up to their greed and poor decisions. While very much unrelated, I think we can take the following major situtations/blunders as a collective wake up call to the need for oversite and regulation and demand it.  I can only hope some good can come out of such dire situtations:

-The financial meltdown

-The West Virginia mine disaster

-This horrific oil spill.

How much more does it take to send a clear message?

Their old arguments simply ring hollow at this point.

Those things aren't unrelated at all IMO....Lack of regulation in the name of greed and profit is responsible for all of the things you mentioned, and more.  Actually, lack of oversight is also responsible for the devastation in NOLA..as the Corp of Engineers didn't maintain the levees properly. Katrina didn't hit NOLA dead on, it hit the MS coast, which suffered horrible devastation, but far fewer deaths.

I'm done with all of the hollow arguments.  I don't see any of the pure-capitalist-supply-siders defending their cause here.  There is NO defense.  Cost cutting in the name of profit rules supreme, and is killing human beings, our economy and our environment.  You just thought I was anti big business before.  You ain't seen nothing yet!!

In CNN's poll, 61 percent still supported off shore drilling, despite the current oil spill. I don't think they realize how delicate the wetlands are. This is not a smooth beach-like coast line. This area is extremely fragile. Make no mistake, we will all feel the effects of this disaster, though not as severely as Louisiana will. This fragile area will not likely return to normal in our life time. Rush says that Alaska has recovered from the Exxon spill and is now "pristine."  The experts say that even after 20 years much of the area is almost as contaminated as when the accident occurred. Clean-up of the wetlands will be complicated and difficult. This is truly as tragedy. 

Of the 61 percent, I wonder how many reside in areas that are well inland from the coastline of the Gulf of Mexico or the Pacific or Atlantic Ocean. 

"Sometimes you're the windshield, sometimes you're the bug." -- Mark Knopfler

Very good point.  would bet hat a ton of those 61% are in the "safe" midwest. 

______________________

RFO Outreach Coordinator

The enemy of "the best" is not "the worst." The enemy of "the best" is "good enough."

DAVID!!!!!!  How great to see you!  I hope you're gonna stick around for a while!!  I missed you tons! ;-D

(((HUGS))) to my dear friends Suzi and Lesley!  

Sending good thoughts out to you and your family who will be effected by this disaster.  I suspected that there would be economic consequences, but I hope that it won't take 20 years for the Gulf's economies to recover.  I'd like your permission to start sharing your thoughts with friends who don't realize how bad the situation is.  

Also, I've heard reports that a dead dolphin was found washed up somewhere near the spill.  Can anyone confirm, or deny (hopefully) this?  

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Having been poor is no shame, but being ashamed of it, is. 

-- Benjamin Franklin

Awwwwwww thanks, Jake, for the hugs and the support!! I would be HONORED for you to share my thoughts with as many people as possible.  Sorry if my post was a bit edgy, I'm just in a bit of a tizzy about this disaster.   I'm going check now to find information about the possibility of the dolphin being found.  I'll get back to you asap.  Pray that it was NOT true.   

"I SO voted for Barack Obama!  10/25/08"

Thank you Jake..  I can sure use that hug.  You can gladly have my permission to share anything I say about this...here or on Twitter ( @SuziLeVeaux) or anywhere else for that matter. 

The 20 years is a worst case scenario, and we are praying it won't be that bad. It just all depends on how much oil comes into the marshlands, and what it does to the breeding cycle. 

I haven't heard anything about a dolphin.  If I do, I'll be sure to let you know.

This is what Thom Hartmann sent out in his newletter about this topic.

 

"

The Halliburton/BP Disaster...
White House senior adviser David Axelrod told ABC today that President Obama will halt any new offshore oil drilling "until we find out what happened" in the Gulf of Mexico spill. Axelrod said no new drilling will start until "an adequate review of what happened here and what is being proposed elsewhere." The BP-Halliburton oil disaster could surpass Exxon Valdez very quickly. The Wall Street Journal reports the spill could have been prevented by a simple remote "off" switch, which the rig lacked. Eleven men died in this explosion, a detail that's usually overlooked in news reports, as the non-union company Halliburton was running the operation in a way that Norwegian offshore drilling operations would consider criminally unsafe. First miners, now oil rig workers, all dead because of deregulation and union-busting pushed by the corporate billionaires at BP, Halliburton, and the so-called "free market" enthusiasts in Congress.
-Thom"
(added emphasis mine.)
Thom has been ranting today that BP and or Haliburton should be held to the "corporate death penalty" that is still on the law books of many states.  It used to be in this country when a corporation went so far in criminal activity or destruction to the state, then that corporation was dissovled and its assets sold.
To think, that this diaster could have been prevented by two things:
1. A unionized workforce with union safety inspectors, which exist on oil rigs in other countries.
2.  A remote shutoff function that in the case of extreme accident collapses the oil well on the sea floor, thereby preventing further leakage, or at least limiting it, which is required in just about every other country with offshore drilling!
This is going to be lovely as the Gulf Stream picks up this oil flow and it spreads around Florida and up the East Coast in the coming months.  Hey, extreme right wingers (not the majority of the good people that I know post here) how's that enviromental deruglation doing for you?!  Enjoy your summer swim in black crude!

 

This was Thom's Blog today, Monday May4th, 2010:

 

"Halliburton & BP - Is it time for the Corporate Death Penalty?
President Barack Obama pretty much stated the obvious when he called the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico "a massive and potentially unprecedented environmental disaster." The oil well pouring a river of crude into the Gulf of Mexico didn't have the normal type of remote-control shut-off switch used in Norway and the UK as last-resort protection against underwater spills, largely because the oil companies themselves are responsible for "voluntary" compliance with safety and environmental standards. It was in 1994, two years into the Clinton administration, when this practice of putting the fox in charge of the henhouse was legalized, about the same time George W. Bush was doing the same thing in Texas, a program pushed hard in the previous administration by Dan Quayle's so-called "competitiveness council" charged with deregulating industry. The accident has led to one of the largest ever oil spills in U.S. water and the loss of 11 lives.
 
Voluntary safety for oil wells, but you and I can get stopped by the police if we don't fasten our safety belts? Eleven people have died because Halliburton and BP wanted to save money. In the first hundred years of this republic it was commonplace for rogue corporations to get the corporate death penalty - being shut down, dissolved, and having their assets sold off. Through the 19th century, it averaged around 2000 companies a year that got the axe. If the Supreme Court now says that corporations are people - and they did - then these corporations should be eligible for the corporate death penalty. Time to break up and sell off the pieces of Halliburton and British Petroleum.
 
- Thom"

 

(italics added are mine for emphasis.)

 

Everyone who waves the Constitution in defense of greed should read and reread your last paragraph.

Ms. Palin has been remarkably quiet about this whole tragic incident hasn't she?

"Sometimes you're the windshield, sometimes you're the bug." -- Mark Knopfler

The "drill baby drill" crowd, as well as those who tell us we can trust big business to do what's right have been so quiet it's deafening. 

Michael Brown tells Cavuto on Fox: Obama deliberately delayed the response to the BP disaster because he wanted to shut down offshore oil drilling.  Heckuva job, Brownie!

Here is the actual timeline of response, available in many places, both written and video.  I heard a Coast Guard representative give a perfect explanation on the radio yesterday...I wish I could post it verbatim!

Trying to turn this into "Obama's Katrina" is sick political posturing and it infuriates me.

Tweet by BP...   We’ve assured fishermen’s association that fishermen offering services are not required to sign a waiver. Any signed won’t be enforced.

So this sounds good......

So the logical, corporate answer is to not hire any more fishermen, right?  Only 40 hired so far after training many.

BP, the company responsible for the oil cleanup, is paying the fishers for their services. But so far only 40 have been hired, said St. Bernard Parish Councilman Fred Everhard

These Michael Brown claims that you mention are absolutely ridiculous! How unprofessional at the very least! The lengths some are going to change the facts, pass the blame and distract us from past incompetence of other administrations (in Brown's case) are so over the top and IMO obvious. On CNBC they were trying to say this was no big deal compared to other accidents, this was much lower scale, etc. Try telling that to fishermen or the tourist industry in Louisiana, not to mention the creatures dying, will you please? The conservatives pretend to care about the future we are handing our children (deficits, etc.) but I guess ruining their environment doesn't count.

Trying desperately to see the silver lining, I do anticipate much more effective regulation and changing the laws to make companies like BP much more accountable. As mentioned above, I also see the value of unions back in the spotlight. I know there is fair criticism of unions out there but when you look at this case and the WV mine "accident" where lives have been lost due to greed/taking advantage of workers, the purpose and benefits of unions becomes much more clear.

The Interior Department exempted BP's calamitous Gulf of Mexico drilling operation from a detailed environmental impact analysis last year, according to government documents, after three reviews of the area concluded that a massive oil spill was unlikely.

The decision by the department's Minerals Management Service (MMS) to give BP's lease at Deepwater Horizon a "categorical exclusion" from the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) on April 6, 2009 -- and BP's lobbying efforts just 11 days before the explosion to expand those exemptions -- show that neither federal regulators nor the company anticipated an accident of the scale of the one unfolding in the gulf. 

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/05/04/AR2010050404118.html?hpid=topnews

Regulations of any kind have no effect if the body overseeing them does not do the job properly.  Apparently BP has a terrible safety record with hundreds of violations. IIRC having to pay millions in fines due to them - so why as a gov't has the US not done anything to restrict?  Guessing it is all about the $$'s.  Doesn't matter which party is the recipient, outcomes are the same - incompetents at the helm.

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If one rejects laissez faire on account of mans fallibility and moral weakness, one must for the same reason also reject every kind of government action. Ludwig von Mises

- incompetents at the helm.

or a flat out you wash my back I wash your back scenerio.

Doesn't matter which party is the recipient, outcomes are the same - incompetents at the helm

I'm in total agreement about both parties being guilty.  While Mary Landrieu (D) is running from one news show to the next trying to make herself look good (it's not working) .  Meanwhile, David Vitter is saying that BP is spread too thin, and we should allow BP to focus all of its efforts on building a dome and drilling a relief well at the source of the spill and have the government protect the coast and clean up. (Funny how those that scream "too much government is bad", suddenly want more government when their cash cow is threatened)

While I agree the whole govt and big oil in bed with each other thing is a huge and dangerous mess, what I don't understand is how you can solely blame government and not the companies...BP in this case.  Both are guilty and at fault. (This is what Obama meant by changing the way Washington does business, which is turning out to be very difficult). 

One who pays a "bribe" (BP) is just as guilty as the one who accepts it (government officials).  It takes two to tango. 

Oh I agree Suzi but whom is more culpable to us?  Who is supposed  to be concerned with our interest?  

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If one rejects laissez faire on account of mans fallibility and moral weakness, one must for the same reason also reject every kind of government action. Ludwig von Mises

NPR has a thorough recap for anyone interested:

 

 

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If one rejects laissez faire on account of mans fallibility and moral weakness, one must for the same reason also reject every kind of government action. Ludwig von Mises

That's a pretty accurate article, but I need to add a couple of things. 

The first couple of days were devoted to searching for the missing eleven men. 

The day after the explosion, Obama dispatched several high level people people to co-ordinate the response.  Meanwhile, the Coast Guard ( a branch of our military) was on the scene from the beginning.

Until the second explosion, and the sinking of the rig, we were led to believe by BP that the spill could and would be contained.

High winds and seas, up until yesterday or the day before, stopped the burning, skimming, surface disbursement (which is a whole other topic for discussion) and  placement of booms.

Here is a link from Firedog Lake rewinding time to show how BP got to this point. Yes, government agencies seemed to be protecting BP along the way, basically sweeping all the "accidents" and malfunctions under the rug. Not to say BP is not ultimately responsible but greed and "hey, let's see how much we can get away with and kiss up to Congress/officials in charge" led the way. Maybe we need a consumer protection agency in all areas of government to be sure everyone is held accountable, including government officials.

Until the turn of the decade, BP had a relatively decent safety and environmental record compared to others similarly situated. Then BP merged with American oil giant Amoco and started plying the soft regulated underbelly of Republican rule in the US under oil men George Bush and Dick Cheney. Here from the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) is an excellent list of BP misconduct, almost all occurring and/or whitewashed under the Bush/Cheney Administration. If you open the door, foxes eat the chickens.

But it is not just regulatory policy behind the open and notorious recklessness of BP and its ilk, it is intentional policy at the Department of Justice as well. Here is how the former Special Agent In Charge for the EPA Criminal Investigative Division, Scott West, described the DOJ coddling of BP under the Bush/Cheney Administration:

In March 2006, a major pipeline leak went undetected for days, spilling a quarter-million gallons of oil on the Alaskan tundra. The spill occurred because the pipeline operator, British Petroleum (BP), ignored its own workers warnings by neglecting critical maintenance to cut costs. The spill sparked congressional hearings and a large federal-state investigation. Despite the outcry, in a settlement announced in late October 2007, BP agreed to one misdemeanor charge carrying three-year probation and a total of only $20 million in penalties (a $12 million fine with $8 million in restitution and compensatory payments).

The settlement resulted from a sudden U.S. Justice Department August 2007 decision to wrap up the case, according to West. That precipitous shutdown meant

Felony charges would not be pursued and the agreement foreclosed any future prosecutions. No BP executive faced any criminal liability for a spill second in size only to the Exxon Valdez;

The fines proposed by Justice (to which BP immediately agreed) were only a fraction of what was legally required under the Alternative Fines Act. EPA had calculated the appropriate fine levels as several times what Justice offered BP – ranging from $58 million to $672 million, depending upon the economic assumptions; and

The BP Alaska settlement is part of a pattern of “lowball” corporate public safety and pollution settlements engineered by the Bush Justice Department. In that October 2007 settlement package, Justice asked for only $50 million in fines for the BP Texas refinery explosion in which 15 people died – penalties not carrying strong deterrent value for a big multi-national corporation

The above is verbatim from a formal complaint filed with the Inspector General of the DOJ, Glen Fine, by West and a group known as Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). The complaint went on to quote West as follows:

Never …have I had a significant environmental criminal case shut down by the political arm of the Department of Justice, nor have I had a case declined by the Department of Justice before I had been fully able to investigate the case. This is unprecedented in my experience.

This is why the lobbying and power money that pulsates through Washington from oil companies like BP is the root cause of many of our problems. Now that those problems have boiled to the surface, they can't be ignored. These effect many areas. For example, the financial industry risky business was ignored thanks to "the right price" paid to politicians. The mining safety concerns were ignored due to low fines and high-power lawyers. Once again money talks. And now this. Who is watching out for the average guy, the fishermen who might lose their business, and who is trying to keep our environment safe?

I think we need to have more, stricter regulation but with major oversite and consumer groups steering the boat, not lobby groups. In a perfect world, we could count on some businesses to have enough scruples to avoid cutting corners when it came to dangerous conditions and risk. Thanks to special interests and pure greed, that is only a dream. We need someone like Elizabeth Warren as "middle class oversite director" for Wall Street and the equivalent for mine safety and drilling apparently.

This is why the lobbying and power money that pulsates through Washington from oil companies like BP is the root cause of many of our problems

This is where I disagree - if our politicians didn't accept the $$ it wouldn't matter which business offerred it.  People aren't doing the jobs they have been tasked to do.  I see little difference between big business and government except that along with the individual profit motive, incompetence is usually present in government.

Interesting tidbit - the creation of the Credit Default Swap was engineered after the Exxon Valdez disaster.  

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If one rejects laissez faire on account of mans fallibility and moral weakness, one must for the same reason also reject every kind of government action. Ludwig von Mises

By the same token, if business didn't offer the $$$, government couldn't accept it.  Big business is just as guilty....no matter how you try to paint it. 

The same lack of regulation on Wall Street is mirrored in the BP oil spill: lack of oversight. Smaller gov't, anyone?

But surely if we simply banned all lobbying (and yes I know there is "good" lobbying such as cancer research but a total ban would make the most sense) and forbid people in office from taking lobby money, that would be a start, maybe even solve most of our problems. I admire Obama for not taking direct lobbyist money during his campaign, but most would never attempt that. I agree that if you have an out of control teenager (businesses) and the parent (government) sets no rules and lets them get away with the horrid behavior, the parent is at fault and in charge of correcting the madness (regulation!!!! oversite!!!!! consumer protection!!!!)

I don't see how - what is now a logged/tracked practice would simply go underground.

Perhaps if we didn't have career politicians lobbying would not have the influence it currently does.

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If one rejects laissez faire on account of mans fallibility and moral weakness, one must for the same reason also reject every kind of government action. Ludwig von Mises

Perhaps if we didn't have big businesses putting mega profits above all else the lobbying would also become less.  Everyone has the right to petition their government, but no one has the right to buy them off. ;-)  Once again, it's a two edge sword, with both parties bearing equal guilt.

This is a problem for both parties. 

According to Politico: 

"During his time in the Senate and while running for president, Obama received a total of $77,051 from the oil giant and is the top recipient of BP PAC and individual money over the past 20 years, according to financial disclosure records." 

"As the top congressional recipient in the last cycle and one of the top BP cash recipients of the past two decades, Mary Landrieu (D-Louisiana) banked almost $17,000 from the oil giant in 2008 alone and has lined her war chest with more than $28,000 in BP cash overall." 

"Also on the list is Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio), whose state has a BP refinery in Toledo and who has raked in $41,400. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has received $44,899."  

Landrieu is supporting continued off-shore drilling.  I'll bet his fisherman, sea food restaurant, and nature loving constituents are just thrilled. 

(I hate this CAPTCHA program with it's C c S s O o guessing game!) 

Actually, TG, it is her fisherman, et. al. Mary Landrieu is female.

"Sometimes you're the windshield, sometimes you're the bug." -- Mark Knopfler

Yes, those lobbyists will give to anyone, even people like Obama who have a pretty good record on environmental issues and might not act as a BFF like Bush did. They'll take their chances. I'd like to see the break down of numbers which make him the "biggest recipient of BP PAC and individual money of the past 20 years."  I know he had charges during the campaign of getting huge donations from "oil company" workers and "Wall Street" but it turns out they counted gas station workers who gave personal donations as part of "oil money" and New Yorkers who worked on Wall Street who made individual donations as "Wall Street." I'd like to have a closer look since they did not break down PAC vs. individual donations. I gave alot to his campaign so they'd classify that as "teacher union" money I suppose, even though it was just a personal donation and had nothing to do with lobbying for teachers. I am less concerned as to how much is given to a politician than I am the policies by that individual that follow. As far as I can tell, the only evidence of "pay back" from Obama was a willingless to include offshore drilling in his overall energy policy. The reason for that might have more to do with a deal to try to get Republicans on board with climate change. As it stands now, if Obama abandons offshore drilling, I think we can forget about GOP support for a climate bill.

An Obama spokesman rejected the notion that the president took big oil money.

“President Obama didn’t accept a dime from corporate PACs or federal lobbyists during his presidential campaign,” spokesman Ben LaBolt said. “He raised $750 million from nearly four million Americans. And since he became president, he rolled back tax breaks and giveaways for the oil and gas industry, spearheaded a G20 agreement to phase out fossil fuel subsidies, and made the largest investment in American history in clean energy incentives.”

 

 

Bobby F. Kennedy Jr. has a MUST READ piece which gives insight as to the problems with oversight and regulation, as well is BP's willingness to push the envelope where safety is concerned.  

Exerpt:

BP's confidence in lax government oversight by a badly compromised agency still staffed with Bush era holdovers may have prompted the company to take two other dangerous shortcuts. First, BP failed to install a deep hole shut off valve -- another fail-safe that might have averted the spill. And second, BP's reported willingness to violate the law by drilling to depths of 22,000-25,000 feet instead of the 18,000 feet maximum depth allowed by its permit may have contributed to this catastrophe

Lax government oversight.....why to do we continue to expect government to do its job or why adding more government will get the job done?

This is systemic problem regardless of administration.  Ken Salazar as noted above also approved of scrapping provisions to allow BP to continue operations.  People can continue to blame previous adminstrations for problems but I don't see any movement prior to this to change them if they were so egregious? 

One thing I didn't understand - BP had a primary and backup cut off valve on this rig.  The primary failed and apparently the 2nd did as well or they were not able to access it - conflicting info.  The acoustic trigger is used by only 2 countries - how does RFK Jr know this would have averted any disaster?  Where's the data?  Not saying that BP is not responsible or contributed to negligent practices but there really has to be an objective view to determine what the issue is to ensure repeats never happen again. 

RFKs pro adminstration response is in stark contrast to what NPR noted.  Any reason he mentioned nothing of the response time for getting the fire booms?

*******************

If one rejects laissez faire on account of mans fallibility and moral weakness, one must for the same reason also reject every kind of government action. Ludwig von Mises

Lax government oversight.....why to do we continue to expect government to do its job or why adding more government will get the job done?

 

Okay what is your solution? If not the government then who or what?

Link from TPM. Jindal-who has embraced the "we don't need the federal government" mantra now seeks major help from the federal government. This is a perfect example of how government help and intervention is not always a bad thing. To all those states who wish to secede or who bash the federal government, good luck with disasters like this.

The financial costs of the massive Gulf Coast oil spill are just beginning to become a political issue, with Democrats in Washington reluctant to divvy out any more taxpayer funds in an election year, especially for states whose governors have been among the most vocal over the past year in blasting federal spending.

In Louisiana, Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) has been a vocal critic of federal spending under President Obama, but as the state closest to the undersea leak, he already has requested various forms of federal disaster assistance. He's also anticipating the possibility that British Petroleum either won't, or won't have to under the law, foot the the full cost of all the damages associated with the spill.

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) took a swipe at Jindal when I asked during a brief interview this week if Congress was considering any funding to add to what BP will do. "Well you know, here we go. You know, the governor of Louisiana says the federal government should stay out of the state's business," Menendez told me Tuesday night. Jindal's office said they would respond but haven't yet gotten back to me. We'll update if they do.

Let's not forget all the Republicans who were against the stimulus funds and happily had their hands out when money was dispersed and even posed with big smiles at ribbon cutting ceremonies.

I don't mean to pick on Jindal. He has his hands full and does seem to be doing a good job, overall. I think he actually appreciates Obama's quick response and competence, although he could never say that aloud.

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