It’s my deeply held conviction that BP is to blame for the ongoing destruction of life in the Gulf of Mexico and that every pointer digit of every person in the U.S. should be locked on the multinational behemoth—and its odious little weasel of a CEO, Tony Hayward. More moderate voices, such as Professor Noah Hall at the Great Lakes Law blog, for whom I generally have profound respect, counsel against such emotional and unproductive thinking. “We” need to stop playing the “blame game,” advises Hall, and instead heed President Obama’s call to “break our oil addiction.”
If I had Bill Maher’s power to establish new rules, my first one would be that nobody, particularly someone like Hall who is supposedly providing unbiased expert information, would be allowed to use the term “blame game.” Resorting to it is a lame game, a gotcha gambit that according to current rules, somehow establishes the superiority of the party that first flings it at his/her opponent or uses it to preemptively bolster his/her analysis. In Hall’s case, for those of us who rightfully blame BP, it’s an insult to nyah-nyah-nyah-nyah-nyah us with the notion that we are playing some kind of childish game. The reason people are aiming their index fingers at BP (another Noah no-no), is because BP is to blame. It isn’t a goddamn game.
BP is a criminal enterprise. It didn’t simply cut “. . .corners on safety and environmental regulations,” as Hall daintily suggests. As Jon Stewart shows in a laugh-so-as-not-to-cry segment, BP has committed 760 “egregious and willful” safety violations since 2007. A figure I hadn’t seen until today’s research is even more mind boggling: Per this article in the blog maintained by the Center for Public Integrity, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued 862 citations to BP between June 2007 and February 2010 for alleged violations at its refineries in Texas City and Toledo, Ohio. Of those, 760 were classified as “egregious willful” and 69 were classified as “willful.” I do not understand the distinction. If a decision to circumvent regulations is “willful,” it’s by definition “egregious,” right?
The reason that its key decision makers haven’t been (and, you heard it here first, won’t be) brought to justice is because of the massive resources the company wields to buy our legislators and to control the public narrative of the energy crisis and the solutions, all of which amazingly require the participation of BP.
Excerpts from a May, 2010 article in the business section of the New York Times:
- After BP’s Texas City, Tex., refinery blew up in 2005, killing 15 workers, the company vowed to address the safety shortfalls that caused the blast.
- The next year, when a badly maintained oil pipeline ruptured and spilled 200,000 gallons of crude oil over Alaska’s North Slope, the oil giant once again promised to clean up its act.
- In 2007, when Tony Hayward took over as chief executive, BP settled a series of criminal charges, including some related to Texas City, and agreed to pay $370 million in fines. The company pledged to improve its “risk management.”
- Despite those repeated promises to reform, BP continues to lag other oil companies when it comes to safety, according to federal officials and industry analysts. Many problems still afflict its operations in Texas and Alaska, they say. Regulators are investigating a whistle-blower’s allegations of safety violations at the Atlantis, one of BP’s newest offshore drilling platforms in the Gulf of Mexico.