Brought to you by the George W. Bush / Dick Cheney administration’s Minerals Management Service, the corporate foolhardiness of British Petroleum, the unusual cement of Cheney’s former company Halliburton, and unvarnished greed, behold Deepwater Horizon: the largest single incident of man-made environmental catastrophe (not to mention homicide) in the nation’s history.
Yes, I know: Obama/Salazar/Birnbaum. Birnbaum left ’cause she hadn’t rooted out the miscreants w and dick installed, for the very excellent reason that she wasn’t tasked to do that — her “Job One” directive was to get Cape Wind approved, and she did. Salazar should leave — this new sheriff in town didn’t get a Federal Judge or even a Federal Marshal to lend credence to his claims of reform.
That said, there’s no excuse for not going after BP on a criminal as well as a civil basis (and kudos to the stock traders yesterday for seeing the writing on the wall regarding this consistently negligent, profit-obsessed corporation’s likely future), which suddenly looks as threatened as the Gulf of Mexico’s many natural wonders now at the merciless hands of a careless corporation’s corner-cutting.
“Everybody’s scrambling,” said Steve W. Ross, a marine biologist at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington, and an expert on deepwater corals. “There’s a lot of evaluation that has to be done.”
But some believe that studies on the impact of oil and dispersants should have been done long ago, given the proliferation of drilling rigs in the Gulf of Mexico.
“Some of these studies were proposed years ago, and the agencies decided not to fund them,” Dr. Ross said. “We’re paying the price for it now.”
The BP spill coincides nonetheless with a fertile period of deep-ocean exploration in the Gulf of Mexico. Over the past decade, the Minerals Management Service — the federal agency criticized by lawmakers for its oversight of the offshore drilling industry — has financed extensive research into mapping the life of the deep ocean.
Yesterday, DoJ chief Eric Holder announced prosecutions are planned for BP’s violations of environmental law. I’m good with that. Now how about charges for obstruction of justice and falsification of government documents (the permits BP lied to get and lied when it filled out, and the post-Texas City government orders BP ignored to kill more workers at its horrific plant)?
More logically, a large portion of the blame is being laid at the feet of BP and its contractors at the site, including Transocean and Halliburton. That’s certainly appropriate. They were behind the wheel, so to speak, and ought to be held responsible for what happened. The early investigative record already contains evidence of shortcuts taken, warning signs dismissed and profit given precedence over safety. BP’s subsequent behavior in consistently downplaying the enormity of its failure has only added to the justifiable anger directed at the company.