Posts Tagged ‘ecology’


In Bureaucracy, Business, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics on June 5, 2010 at 12:48 pm

President Barack Obama has been coming in for a great deal of criticism since April 20.

It was on that day that BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded and sank about 40 miles southeast off the Louisiana coast. The resulting oil spill has pumped millions of gallons of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico, with no end in sight.

From the beginning, President Obama’s enemies on the Right have relentlessly criticized everything about his handling of the crisis. Some have complained that he’s allowed BP too much leeway in trying to cap the leak.

But when he began taking a tough line with BP, Rand Paul, the Republican candidate for Senator from Kentucky, pulled out the old Joseph McCarthy chestnut and declared the President was “really un-American in his criticism of business.”

Others on the Right have slammed Obama for not showing enough anger in public. The President and his supporters have countered that anger, in itself, accomplishes nothing.

When the President attended a White House concert given by Paul McCartney, Republicans attacked him for not working round-the-clock to solve the BP crisis.

These same critics conveniently ignored the embarrassing truth that during his first eight months in office before September 11, President George W. Bush was on vacation, according to the Washington Post, forty-two percent of the time.

Obama’s detractors have totally ignored the most important truth of all: That while Hurricane Katrina–to which the BP crisis has been repeatedly compared–was created by Nature, the BP disaster was created by the secret bureaucratic maneuvers of the Bush administration.

On May 11, MSNBC Political Correspondent Chris Matthews reported: “[Dick Cheney] got…$34 million from Halliburton after he joined the ticket in 2000. He was leaving the company. This wasn’t for services, this was what, goodwill?”

Soon after Cheney took office as Vice President, Minerals Management Service (MMS), the division of the Department of the Interior responsible for ensuring safety in oil-drilling operations, got two new high-ranking appointees. Both turned out to be former employees of Halliburton. In the incestuous world of Washington bureaucratic politics, they would be overseeing their own “former” employer.

MMS declined to mandate certain safety devices required on offshore rigs in other countries and gave BP “a categorical exclusion” from the National Environmental Policy Act in 2009. This allowed BP to drill in 5,000 feet of water without requiring a detailed environmental impact analysis. BP’s exploration plan called the prospect of an oil spill “unlikely.”

As if that weren’t bad enough, in 2008, Interior Department Inspector General Earl Devaney found that MMS employees in the division that gathers fees had sex with and accepted gifts from industry contacts while failing to collect almost $200 million due from energy companies.

In addition, Vice President Cheney created an “energy task force” whose members consisted entirely of representatives of the oil, gas and nuclear energy industries. No environmental-protection groups were invited to attend. And no members of the media were allowed to monitor these secret meetings. Energy regulations were drafted by the very companies the government was supposed to be regulating.

According to Chris Matthews, what happened on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig was entirely predictable.

“I’ve talked to people in the oil industry,” said Matthews, “and they tell me that no mistake is ever new. No accident is ever new. Everything that ever goes wrong has happened before. And when it happened before…they established safety management procedures from making sure it doesn’t happen again….

“Why didn’t they follow those procedures in this case so it wouldn’t happen, what happened before? They’re acting like this is an act of God, all the right-wingers are saying, ‘Act of God, oh we can’t believe it. It’s poltergeist! Weird spirits did this! God did this!’ But at some point we take responsibility for money-making when money-making goes bad.”

The chickens, in short, have come home to roost. And–like the birds on the contaminated beaches–they have oil in their feathers.


In Bureaucracy, Politics, Uncategorized on May 20, 2010 at 10:12 pm

….Men in general judge more by the eyes than by the hands, for every one can see, but very few have to feel. Everyone sees what you appear to be, few feel what you are….
–Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince

Thus Niccolo Machiavelli, the Florentine patriot and father of modern political science, summed up the art of spin-control. And we are all fortunate that British Petroleum (BP) CEO Tony Hayward has thoroughly forgotten–if he ever knew–the truth of that statement.

In doing so, he has unintentionally opened a window on the true character of the oil industry.

On April 20, BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded and sank about 40 miles southeast of the Louisiana coast. The resulting oil spill has pumped millions of gallons of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico, with no end in sight.

And how has BP CEO Tony Hayward responded? Judge for yourself:

April 29: “What the hell did we do to deserve this?”

May 14: “The Gulf of Mexico is a very big ocean. The amount of volume of oil and dispersant we are putting into it is very tiny in relation to the total water volume.”

May 18: “Everything we can see at the moment suggests that the overall environmental impact will be very, very modest.”

And on May 19, when CBS tried to film a beach with heavy oil on the shore in South Pass, Louisiana, a boat of BP contractors, and two Coast Guard officers, told them to turn around, or be arrested.

“This is BP’s rules, it’s not ours,” someone aboard the boat said. Coast Guard officials told CBS that they’re looking into it.

Since the Coast Guard is a branch of the United States Armed Forces, it raises questions about collaboration between the government and BP to prevent the truth of the disaster from coming out.

The unintentionally telling statements of CEO Hayward and the Stalin-like efforts by BP to censor news about the ecological disaster it has created make this pure-water clear: It’s past time for President Obama to place tight controls over BP and its sister oil companies.

For the oil industry, fattening its pocketbook comes first and foremost. All the PR propaganda churned out by its highly-paid corporate shills counts for nothing when compared with the sheer tonage of violence done to the land, the ocean, the fishing industry and the lives of those who are entertwined with all three.

Interestingly, those who cheered on Sarah Palin in her chant of “Drill, baby, drill” during the 2008 Presidental race have fallen unexpectedly quiet. Perhaps they’re waiting for news of the oil spill and its monumental damage to go away. But that will happen only when the disaster itself fades from memory. And that isn’t likely to happen anytime soon.

%d bloggers like this: