Ninety Days of Hell from Decades of Neglect

Good grief:

Federal officials speaking about the Gulf of Mexico oil spill Sunday morning appeared to be steeling the Louisiana coast – and the nation – for consequences that could be “catastrophic.”

The officials, who run the agencies charged with mitigating the impact of the spill on America’s Gulf coast, used unusually stark words to describe the situation and the difficulties of the remedy.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said it was the federal government’s job to “keep the boot on the neck of BP,” which is running the cleanup effort.

Coast Guard Commandant Thad Allen called the bid to shut down a wellhead spewing at least 210,000 gallons of oil a day from nearly a mile beneath the ocean surface “one of the most complex things we’ve every done.”

He went on to say that, in a worst-case scenario, the well could vent 4.2 million gallons of oil into the Gulf daily. Currently, a crumpled “riser” pipe is preventing the full flow of oil – like a kinked garden hose – though reports suggest it is gradually deteriorating.

Four million gallons a day for ninety days would be equal to roughly 45 Exxon Valdez spills. I fail to see how BP continues to exist as a corporation. And they should be destroyed:

BP, the company that owned the Louisiana oil rig that exploded last week, spent years battling federal regulators over how many layers of safeguards would be needed to prevent a deepwater well from this type of accident.

***

But according to aides to Sen. Bill Nelson, a Florida Democrat who has followed offshore drilling issues for years, the industry aggressively lobbied against an additional layer of protection known as an “acoustic system,” saying it was too costly. In a March 2003 report, the agency reversed course, and said that layer of protection was no longer needed.

“There was a big debate under the Bush administration whether or not to require additional oil drilling safeguards but [federal regulators] decided not to require any additional mandatory safeguards, believing the industry would be motivated to do it themselves,” Carl Pope, Chairman of the Sierra Club told ABC News.

Is anyone else noticing a trend here? Decades of onlsaught by Republicans (and many Democrats, as well) and business friendly interests have led to the complete inability or unwillingness of government to regulate our food safety, our water, our financial markets, our mines, and now, tragically, our offshore drilling programs. And in every case, defanging the regulators has led to expensive disasters. All so a select few can make more and more money.






121 replies
  1. 1
    Lolis says:

    Yep.

  2. 2
    Violet says:

    Is there a “This is why government regulation is necessary” movement started yet? Financial regulation, oil drilling…what else has been in the news recently? It would be pretty easy to show why it’s important at the moment.

  3. 3
    Mr Furious says:

    Shut up. This is Obama’s Katrina, and I don’t want to hear anything else.

    —brain-dead rednecks of impacted states about to lose their livelihoods and surroundings to the callous disregard of GOP governance and limitless corporate greed

  4. 4
    MikeJ says:

    An individual can get the death penalty, even if there’s evidence of innocence. Exxon got the punitive damages in Valdez slashed to a few days worth of profits because the Supreme Court discovered a right that’s not in the constitution to not have too big a fine.

  5. 5
    Napoleon says:

    the industry aggressively lobbied against an additional layer of protection known as an “acoustic system,” saying it was too costly.

    . . . but [federal regulators] decided not to require any additional mandatory safeguards, believing the industry would be motivated to do it themselves,” Carl Pope, Chairman of the Sierra Club told ABC News.

    Right, because nothing says that someone will do something voluntarily then the fact that they are spend millions on lobbying so as not to be required to do it.

  6. 6
    beltane says:

    Just like the collapse of Wall Street, except it destroys the earth, not only people’s livelihood and savings (though it will destroy that, too).

    I sincerely hope our species does not drive itself extinct due to the Ayn Rand worship of a few wealthy, white sociopaths. Conservatism is an anti-social death cult, not a political movement.

  7. 7
    demkat620 says:

    Well, this is obviously why we need less regulation not more. Corporations can police themselves much more effectively than government can.

    And once the GOP is back in charge of congress, they’ll take care of this.

  8. 8
    beltane says:

    @MikeJ: According to the Supreme Court, BP has all the same rights as an individual. Does that mean it has the right to be sentenced to the death penalty? We asked this question when the decision was handed down, but now it is of more than theoretical concern.

  9. 9
    Violet says:

    Okay, I give up. My post was eaten twice. FYWP.

    Was trying to make an OT post about a possible suspect in the Times Sq. bombing attempt. According to the NYT, he’s a white guy in his 40’s. Doesn’t sound like the Pakistani Taliban to me.

  10. 10
    mcd410x says:

    Don’t worry: it all counts as GDP!

  11. 11
    KG says:

    @Violet: I think Obama may have started that movement during the commencement at the University of Michigan.

  12. 12
    madmommy says:

    One of the local news stations was trying to put the amount of oil that this spill could produce into perspective. What they came up with was that it would be enough to fill up the New Orleans Arena. But hey, it’s not enough to fill up the Superdome, so that’s good, right? /headdesk

  13. 13
    Salt and freshly ground black people says:

    What does that mean for all the shrimpers/fishermen, etc. out there? How can BP possibly think it can successfully run from the cleanup? Beyond Petroleum indeed – Bringing the Pain is more like it.

  14. 14
    gbear says:

    Has Liz Cheney made a statement about this on TV yet? Has her dad permanently locked himself into his undisclosed location?

  15. 15
    Martin says:

    @Violet: That’d be Joe Pakistani, Italian guy from Taliban Ave in Flatbush.

  16. 16
    RedKitten says:

    but [federal regulators] decided not to require any additional mandatory safeguards, believing the industry would be motivated to do it themselves,” Carl Pope, Chairman of the Sierra Club told ABC News.

    And once again the invisible hand of the free market turns into a lube-free fist up America’s rectum.

  17. 17
    madmommy says:

    @Salt and freshly ground black people:

    The shrimp, fish and crabs can recover…eventually. The oyster beds will be destroyed, and it could take 5-8 years to get them to the point of being able to harvest again.

  18. 18
    amorphous says:

    @mcd410x: Don’t know if you’re aware of this, but Cap’n Ed has deemed GDP growth to no longer matter. His new metric for measuring whether Obama is a successful preznit (PROTIP: he can never be succesful!) is appletinis delivered to every man, woman, and child on a daily basis by singing iguanas. You know, something that matters to people every day lives.

  19. 19
    Martin says:

    I suppose the good news to all of this is that there’s only projected to be about 15 billion barrels of oil under the Gulf, so eventually it’ll stop on its own, right?

    At what point do we decide that a nuclear torpedo would collapse and fuse the well and do less environmental damage?

  20. 20
    Martin says:

    @madmommy: Assuming the oil doesn’t push them to extinction. The water temperatures in the Gulf are pretty unique – I don’t think there’s a lot of local adaptation as a result.

  21. 21
    Martin says:

    @madmommy: Assuming the oil doesn’t push them to extinction. The water temperatures in the Gulf are pretty unique – I think there’s a lot of local adaptation as a result.

  22. 22
    matt says:

    Stupid question: What wouldn’t work about drilling very deep but near the pipe, and then detonating a large explosive (say, a nuke) so that the earth around the pipe collapses? That’s how they’d do it in a Michael Bay movie.

    Edit: or see Martin above.

  23. 23
    Martin says:

    (That should be “I think there’s a lot…”)

  24. 24
    Elisabeth says:

    @demkat620:

    Corporations can police themselves and clean up after themselves, too. Oh wait…

    Funny how those free market/no regulations folks are too busy pointing the finger at a supposed lack of sufficient government response to notice their hypocrisy.

  25. 25
    Martin says:

    @matt: My thought too. The only thing I can think of is the proximity to other platforms and whether that’d cause any of them to fail.

  26. 26
    Genine says:

    And in every case, defanging the regulators has led to expensive disasters. All so a select few can make more and more money.

    Just think… a few short years ago you were a Republican.

    And once again the invisible hand of the free market turns into a lube-free fist up America’s rectum.

    That line is a plate of win and with a side of awesome sauce.

  27. 27
    Elisabeth says:

    @RedKitten:

    I hope they are -motivated- legislated to do so soon.

  28. 28

    @RedKitten: Have you read stories about how business has been busy buying off a lot of the environmental movement? Sad, I know.

  29. 29
    4tehlulz says:

    “keep the boot on the neck of BP”

    ZOMG JACKBOOTED GOVERNMENT THUGS

  30. 30
    madmommy says:

    @Martin:

    That is certainly a possibility. The guy who was talking about this on the news last night was a 3rd generation fisherman. Those guys are well and truly fucked. That part of the state is chock-full of people who make their livlihood from the Gulf. They’ve been doing it for generations, it’s all they know. Their families, their boats and gear, everything they are is tied to the Gulf. It’s not like they can just take their skill-set off to some other place and start over.

  31. 31
    Mike Kay says:

    Mary Landrieu is sick, sick, sick.

    Appearing on “Face the Nation”, she said that gulf oil drilling must continue, to do otherwise would be a “retreat”.

    Yes. she actually said “retreat”. She might as well have said, “drill, baby, drill.”

    I’ve said this before, I’ll say it again, mary landrieu is so corrupt.

  32. 32
    cat48 says:

    The most encouraging thing I could say is that the prez is very aware that regulation has been a joke for years now. I read an article at New Republic a few months ago that detailed all the changes that have been made so far. I think it was Judis who wrote it and he seemed to feel that the prez had done a lot to correct this by hiring scientists and others qualified to regulate when required. He felt this was the most important thing Obama had done since entering office. I tend to agree with him. Unfortunately, it takes yrs for the results to show sometimes. Depressing………..but on the right track……..will it be in time to save us from ourselves?????

  33. 33
    Napoleon says:

    @Martin:

    Have you ever dropped an M-80 into a pond strapped to a rock? I have. The fish kill would be incredible and I bet it would do damage to rigs fairly far away.

    That aside has anyone seriously suggested that it could work?

  34. 34
    Starfish says:

    Acoustic systems have been implicated in deafening sea life. Marine mammals will occasionally beach themselves in groups and die because they can no longer navigate when they are deaf and cannot not use their echolocation to find food.

  35. 35
    BR says:

    We. Need. To. Boycott. BP. Now.

    I tried and failed to write about this this morning at GOS:

    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2010/5/2/101919/6253

    Only a boycott is simple enough that folks will do it and yet targeted enough that the media can’t focus on politics.

  36. 36
    Rommie says:

    I know it’s hard to predict alternate versions of events, but goddamn, I don’t think a Gore administration just lets BP do whatever they want.

    Thanks again, you 5 Supreme Morons.

  37. 37
    gbear says:

    According to T. Boone Pickens (chair of BP capital management), the gulf will be back to it’s normal happy ways in no time:

    This is a sad accident that happened but this is, you know, an unusual case but there’ve been others like this so I think way too much is being made of the… of the oil that’s being… that’s coming out there in the Gulf. All of that will get cleaned up and we’ll be back… we’ll be back to normal, the world hasn’t changed because of this blowout.

    We really do need an attempt to plug the oil leak by stuffing it with oil executives.

  38. 38
    Elisabeth says:

    @Mike Kay:

    Does make you wonder how many platforms are still operating and on the verge of doing the same thing. Would it be too drastic to halt all offshore drilling until such time that they are thoroughly inspected and/or fitted with whatever equipment is necessary? Better question is would gas guzzling folks be willing to spring for more expensive gas?

  39. 39
    BR says:

    @Calvin Jones and the 13th Apostle:

    @RedKitten: Have you read stories about how business has been busy buying off a lot of the environmental movement? Sad, I know.

    I remember the great article in The Nation about this:

    http://www.thenation.com/doc/20100322/hari

    Were there others you’d recommend?

  40. 40
    Martin says:

    @Napoleon: I don’t think anyone would publicly suggest it at all. We just don’t talk about such things.

    But it doesn’t need to be a large nuke – a small tactical one should suffice. We’ve got plenty of data on the effects of such a blast, plus it’s relatively deep. Force will drop off with the cube of the distance.

    Yeah, it’d be a big fish kill, but that’s going to happen anyway now, isn’t it?

    I doubt they’d be willing to try it – we likely have no data on whether it’d work in this instance (unless they’ve modeled using tactical nukes to wreck foreign oil supplies, which, come to think of it they may well have modeled.) But the pressure to act is going to increase massively the longer this takes.

  41. 41
    Mike Kay says:

    @Elisabeth: but then mary landrieu would go on tee vee and do her masters bidding, and say, if we implemented your plan, the “terrorists” would win.

  42. 42
    sukabi says:

    you know what would make all of us a tiny less angry about all of this? Enlist (yes, a mandatory draft) all oil execs and wall streeters, bankers and put them on clean up on the front lines of this disaster — not in a management capacity (they’ve proven how effective they are at management — 2 mega disasters between the 2 industries) but in the dirtiest, grunt work there is.

  43. 43
    BR says:

    Speaking of boycotts – is anyone here big into social networks to get a meme going to Boycott BP?

  44. 44
    gbear says:

    @BR:

    The only way a boycott has any effect is if you stop using oil products from ALL manufacturers. The oil companies buy and sell oil to each other as needed. If we don’t cut our own use, a boycott of one company won’t matter at all.

  45. 45
    Cat Lady says:

    “There was a big debate under the Bush administration whether or not to require additional oil drilling safeguards but [federal regulators] decided not to require any additional mandatory safeguards, believing the industry would be motivated to do it themselves”

    Heckuva job Bushie!

  46. 46
    Mike Kay says:

    @Rommie: but dude, ralph nader and his followers say, “there’s no difference between Bush and Gore”.

  47. 47
    BR says:

    @gbear:

    The only way a boycott has any effect is if you stop using oil products from ALL manufacturers. The oil companies buy and sell oil to each other as needed. If we don’t cut our own use, a boycott of one company won’t matter at all.

    I should have been clearer in my intent.

    My goal with a BP Boycott is as an educative / political device. I know oil is fungible and this won’t have a direct impact.

    But today nobody makes the connection between filling up the tank and oil spills. A boycott makes them at least a marginally aware consumer of petroleum products. That means the media will have at least some reason to cover the story as an energy / environmental one rather than as a political one.

  48. 48
    Mike says:

    Cherchez la Cheney; or, Cheney’s Chernobyle
    “…Papantonio laid the blame squarely in Dick Cheney’s lap and said this was one of the deregulations of the energy industry that was negotiated during his secret meetings with oil industry and other energy executives during George Bush’s first term in office and called this the biggest under-reported aspect of this disaster. It would be nice if the media would look into this and start asking some more questions about why these companies were allowed not to have this last resort safeguard….”

  49. 49
    Martin says:

    @BR: What do you boycott? Their stations? BP buys their gas off the open market. Most of it was probably refined by Valero, Exxon, and Conoco. Their refineries buy oil off the open market which might have come from anyone including Canada, Venezuela, etc.

    And their stations are the least profitable arm of the company. Even if you forced their retail operation out of business, they’d hardly notice.

    It’s impossible to boycott an oil company in any meaningful way. It might make you feel good, but they won’t give a fuck.

  50. 50
    Egypt Steve says:

    It’s essential to look forward, not backward.

  51. 51
    Elisabeth says:

    @Mike Kay:

    Somehow the terrorists always win when one is making a stupid argument. I hope Ms. Landrieu has her ass in her home state coordinating some ways to help. (BTW, ins’t her brother mayor of NOLA?)

  52. 52
    Mark S. says:

    @gbear:

    We really do need an attempt to plug the oil leak by stuffing it with oil executives.

    That’s what we need to do. Even if there’s only a one in a billion chance it works.

  53. 53
    Martin says:

    @BR: Honestly, this could have been any of the gulf drillers.

    The only meaningful boycott is to take the bus, put up a solar panel, install CFLs, use much less plastic. Boycot oil and it’s derivatives, rather than any one company. That’s what we should have been doing since 1972.

  54. 54
    WereBear says:

    @sukabi: Yes, that’s kind of poetic.

  55. 55
    BR says:

    @Martin:

    It’s impossible to boycott an oil company in any meaningful way. It might make you feel good, but they won’t give a fuck.

    The point is to make a media spectacle and force folks to think about the connection between buying gas and oil spills. To make folks think even a little about their energy use.

    It’s not to make me feel good. It’s not to hurt their bottom line, even if it will a little. It’s to take the little window of opportunity we have here to make folks think about energy. Otherwise it’ll become Liz Cheney/Palin’s facebook page vs. Obama for the next few weeks in the media and then they’ll get bored and move on. If it’s about BP, then it’s not easy for the media to make it about left vs. right (though they’ll try).

  56. 56
    demo woman says:

    BP will declare bankruptcy to avoid paying for the clean-up. It’s how our system works. Unfortunately the citizens of the Gulf States will pay for BP’s incompetence for years to come but continue to vote Republican because after all President Obama did not prevent the spill.

    @Violet: I listened to the news conference and the reporters still asked about middle eastern connections. White guys just don’t make great head lines.

  57. 57
    BR says:

    @Martin:

    The only meaningful boycott is to take the bus, put up a solar panel, install CFLs, use much less plastic. Boycot oil and it’s derivatives, rather than any one company. That’s what we should have been doing since 1972.

    I walk to work and do all those things. That’s not enough.

    Given that a majority of Americans drive 40 miles a day (to work and back), walking isn’t an option. Neither is public transit in most cities. Building transportation alternatives is a decade(s) long project that is worthwhile, but we need to get mindshare first.

    I don’t feel bad for BP. I don’t care if their brand is tarnished even if they’re substantively no worse than other equally-bad oil companies.

    Giving folks a target makes it easy for them to associate filling up gas with oil spills. That’s a link that doesn’t exist today, and we need it to exist before progress can be made.

  58. 58
    Napoleon says:

    @Martin:

    It kind of surprises me that something like that could work. My guess would be that it would be more likely to increase the flow by clearing off what was left of the infrastructure. Honestly, if there is a fairly good chance it would work they should do it.

  59. 59
    demo woman says:

    @BR: Most gas stations are independently owned. Boycotting hurts their bottom line not big oil. The right boycotted Citgo years ago and Chavez did not notice but the owners of the stations did.

  60. 60
    Nemo_N says:

    Has anyone in the MSM written a long piece on “voluntary compliance” ?

    I hear the term a lot, but it doesn’t seem to have gained the attention it requires.

  61. 61
    burnspbesq says:

    @Starfish:

    “Acoustic systems have been implicated in deafening sea life. Marine mammals will occasionally beach themselves in groups and die because they can no longer navigate when they are deaf and cannot not use their echolocation to find food.”

    And … ?

    You do understand, don’t you, the concepts of “trade-off,” “compromise,” and “least bad?”

  62. 62
    BR says:

    @demo woman:

    @BR: Most gas stations are independently owned. Boycotting hurts their bottom line not big oil. The right boycotted Citgo years ago and Chavez did not notice but the owners of the stations did.

    The boycott is a grassroots media strategy. It’s not about hurting their bottom line in any meaningful way.

    To be honest, I’m surprised how much pushback I’ve gotten against the idea of boycotting BP. I don’t think it’s going to solve some big problem, but it’s a way to start to get folks to be aware of their choices, which they really aren’t right now.

  63. 63
    demo woman says:

    @BR: During the Citgo boycott, I spoke with the owner of the local Citgo station and I sympathized with him. You’re correct to encourage fewer fill ups and mass transportation.

  64. 64
    scarshapedstar says:

    Folks, the important thing is not to play the blame game here and not to look in the rearview mirror. Besides, if oil leaks were a problem, the Free Market would have solved them already. Instead, we’ve got thousands of new jobs on cleanup crews!

    /glibertarian

  65. 65
    Mike in NC says:

    And once again the invisible hand of the free market turns into a lube-free fist up America’s rectum.

    It’s not unlike the infamous Texas politician who once joked about how if a woman was about to be raped she should just lie back and try to enjoy it a little bit.

  66. 66

    […] in Business, Congress, Government at 5:19 pm by LeisureGuy John Cole at Balloon Juice: Good grief: Federal officials speaking about the Gulf of Mexico oil spill Sunday morning appeared […]

  67. 67
    madmommy says:

    @Elisabeth:

    He’s being sworn in as Mayor tomorrow. Their dad Moon was Mayor of NOLA from 1970-78.

  68. 68
    Brachiator says:

    Is anyone else noticing a trend here? Decades of onlsaught by Republicans (and many Democrats, as well) and business friendly interests have led to the complete inability or unwillingness of government to regulate our food safety, our water, our financial markets, our mines, and now, tragically, our offshore drilling programs. And in every case, defanging the regulators has led to expensive disasters.

    The ball is clearly in Palin’s court, hers and her fellow Republicans. They have a wonderful opportunity to explain how they can make “Drill Baby Drill” work without governmental regulation. And since Palin, as former half-time governor of Alaska, is clearly an expert on oil pipeline issues, she should be able to deliver a detailed plan for dealing with this disaster.

    And has Bobby Jindall appeared in front of a microphone and declared that he is not interested in federal assistance to deal with the impact of the oil spill?

  69. 69

    When does hurricane season start? What will the impact be on the Gulf when a couple tropical storms or hurricanes blow through?

    Frankly, I would love to see Obama schedule a prime-time press conference/speech to the nation about this episode. It’s a perfect opportunity to tie a lot of bad things from the last decade together (oil spill, Wall Street, the coal-mining disasters, etc.) and hang them like an anchor around the GOP’s collective neck.

    The country needs a refresher course on the purpose and need for sensible regulation of industry.

  70. 70
    James K. Polk, Esq. says:

    What we need is to force BP to pick up the entire tab for the cleanup of the area. When the damage is assessed, it will rival the market cap of the company.

    We nationalize BP and use the resulting profits to pay for the cleanup of the area. I always wanted my own national oil company…

  71. 71

    Trying to psych the moderation gods…

    When does hurricane season start? What will the impact be on the Gulf when a couple tropical storms or hurricanes blow through?

    Frankly, I would love to see Obama schedule a prime-time press conference/speech to the nation about this episode. It’s a perfect opportunity to tie a lot of bad things from the last decade together (oil spill, Wall Street, the coal-mining disasters, etc.) and hang them like an anchor around the GOP’s collective neck.

    The country needs a refresher course on the purpose and need for sensible regulation of industry.

  72. 72
    MikeBoyScout says:

    How is the Bush/Cheney administration like an oil well?

    Even after it explodes and collapses the after effects of its poor short sighted selfish management can fuck over every living thing for thousands of miles in every direction.

    Surely we’ll see recycling grow as a result of this disaster.
    No, not the good type you’d like, but a recycling of the Greenspan quote:

    “Those of us who have looked to the self-interest of lending institutions oil companies to protect shareholder’s equity the environment — myself especially — are in a state of shocked disbelief.”

  73. 73
    gbear says:

    @Brachiator:

    And has Bobby Jindall appeared in front of a microphone and declared that he is not interested in federal assistance to deal with the impact of the oil spill?

    He’s appeared in front of a camera and declared that he is extremely interested in federal assistance to deal with the oil spill. He’d be insane to do otherwise. He ain’t too proud to beg in this situation.

  74. 74
    tim says:

    OK, so BP lobbyists did their lobbying thing and are scum. That doesn’t change the fact that there were/are specific government officials who made the decision to adjust the regulations in such a way as to accomodate BP’s evil goals.

    Those persons too should be held accountable. We all bitch about evil lobbyists, but the truth is they can’t MAKE anyone do anything against their will. They need spineless, greedy, psycho bureaucrats commanded by executives of the same caliber to complete the circle of stupidity.

  75. 75
    El Cid says:

    By the way, Mexico doesn’t care too much now for having a U.S. company fuck up the Gulf (you know, the Gulf of Mexico), particularly after having ridden them for years how they needed to privatize their state-owned oil companies because they wouldn’t be as safe as the modernized, developed private competition.

  76. 76
    Cacti says:

    I think now’s as good a time as any for President Obama to address the nation and declare our 30-year experiment with deregulation and corporate self-policing an unmitigated failure.

    Deregulation has given us:

    Unsafe food, Unsafe vehicles, S&L Collapses, Banking Collapses, Massive Economic Fraud, Disastrous industrial accidents, Environmental Catastrophes, etc.

    We gave the Corporations rope, and they chose to hang the rest of us. It’s time to pound the final nail into Reaganomics’ coffin and restore the sensible level of regulation that protects the citizenry from unscrupulous profit-seekers.

  77. 77
    Turbulence says:

    @matt:
    Stupid question: What wouldn’t work about drilling very deep but near the pipe, and then detonating a large explosive (say, a nuke) so that the earth around the pipe collapses? That’s how they’d do it in a Michael Bay movie.

    The drilling part I’d guess. It will take weeks to get a new rig in position and get drilling started. By that point, they can just use the new rig to suck the oil out and relieve the pressure.

    Beyond that, I’m not sure we have any idea how an undersea oil field will react to injected explosives. I don’t think this is something that has been done before. It may never have been done. The dynamics of how the oil, rock and water would react to an explosion seem…hard to figure out.

  78. 78
    BR says:

    @El Cid:

    By the way, Mexico doesn’t care too much now for having a U.S. company fuck up the Gulf (you know, the Gulf of Mexico), particularly after having ridden them for years how they needed to privatize their state-owned oil companies because they wouldn’t be as safe as the modernized, developed private competition.

    Isn’t BP technically a British multinational?

    Mexico is in dire straits now, economically. Their oil fields provide a large fraction of the national GDP, and they’re in terminal decline. Cantarell field is going downhill so fast that they’re desperately trying to squeeze more out of it. When that doesn’t work, they’re kind of screwed, because it means massive financial losses for the country, which probably means more unemployment, violence, and instability.

  79. 79
    Zach says:

    I’m not convinced that the reports that BP will be responsible to pay for all of this are true. Here’s the EPA’s summary of the relevant bit of the 1990 oil pollution act: “§1002(a) Provides that the responsible party for a vessel or facility from which oil is discharged, or which poses a substantial threat of a discharge, is liable for: (1) certain specified damages resulting from the discharged oil; and (2) removal costs incurred in a manner consistent with the National Contingency Plan (NCP).”

    Isn’t the responsible party Transocean Ltd, who owned and operated the rig? And even if BP is technically held accountable under the law, they could still sue contracted parties responsible for the errors here.

    Anyway, the potential cost of cleanup is, what, a few billion dollars? Given that BP’s market cap is over $150 billion, and that their Gulf production is a small fraction of their total production, I don’t see how this sinks BP. Go check out Exxon’s success from 1989 to today… they paid out a few billion in cleanup, fines, and compensation as well (although they did dodge a $6 billion bullet thanks to the Supreme Court).

  80. 80
    Mike in NC says:

    @Cacti:

    I think now’s as good a time as any for President Obama to address the nation and declare our 30-year experiment with deregulation and corporate self-policing an unmitigated failure.

    Thou shalt not speak ill of Saint Reagan, don’tcha know?

  81. 81
    madmommy says:

    @Cacti:

    Excellent idea! Only problem I can see is getting the votes to pass it. Even with this mess staring them in the face, there are still plenty of quislings on both sides of the aisle who would vote against regulatory measures. One need look no farther than the recent banking foolishness to see what would happen.

  82. 82
    tavella says:

    I’m not the biggest fan of this administration, but the NYT has made me see red with their repeated line of “the administration missed several chances to contain the spill”. The goddamn thing isn’t going to be ‘contained’ until the freaking blowout stops. It’s an oil slick the size of *Puerto Rico*, all the skimmers and booms and dispersants and contained firings in the world can’t do more than try to mitigate the bits of it near land. But they keep saying it as if the government could have waved a magic wand.

    Every time I see it (and it’s been in their editorial and just about every overview story), I want to grab the reporter by the throat and scream NAME ONE GODDAMN THING.

  83. 83
    Cacti says:

    @madmommy:

    Excellent idea! Only problem I can see is getting the votes to pass it.

    I don’t disagree. One need look no further than Mary Landrieu still defending offshore drilling as millions of gallons of oil head for her State’s shore.

    *Sigh*

  84. 84
    kay says:

    @Zach:

    This is a handy to have though:

    Section 1018(a) The Clean Water Act does not preempt State Law. States may impose additional liability (including unlimited liability), funding mechanisms, requirements for removal actions, and fines and penalties for responsible parties.

  85. 85
    Cacti says:

    @tavella:

    But the NY Times is in the tank for Obama. Haven’t you heard?

  86. 86

    Okay, I know this oil spill is serious fucking business, but since it’s going to be with us for a long time, I’d like to pitch this for a tag: Catastorol GTX.

    +1 (ESF +3)

  87. 87
    rootless-e says:

    I can’t say how surprising it is that the food military contracting financial oil drilling companies did not use enlightened self-interest but took risks that caused huge public costs.

  88. 88
    kay says:

    @tavella:

    Exactly. I figure the New York Times drops the delusional denial and stares into the abyss of reality sometime soon, though.

    “Booms”, no matter how quickly laid, weren’t going to do it.

    It would be helpful if media would figure that out sooner rather than later, because this might be a “teaching moment”.

  89. 89
    Citizen_X says:

    @gbear: Along the same lines, this idiot Mississippi Congressman flew over the spill and said “it’s not as bad as I thought it would be,” and that “It’s breaking up naturally.”

    Yah, maybe, for the leading edge of the spill. Too bad there’s another five million gallons behind that.

  90. 90
    Montysano says:

    @BR:

    The point is to make a media spectacle and force folks to think about the connection between buying gas and oil spills.

    That’s adorable. Try that with the goobers that I grew up with. One of them is on FB, trotting out the “eco-nazis blew the well” meme. She’s feelin’ good, though, since they’ll be voting to send Hussein NObama home in November. Seriously.

    This is heartwarming. BP is already in full CYA mode here in Alabama: BP told to stop circulating settlement agreements with coastal Alabamians .

  91. 91
    Comrade Luke says:

    Far from being destroyed, BP is trying pre-emptively settle with people.

    (h/t Atrios)

  92. 92
    Elisabeth says:

    @Citizen_X:

    Gene Taylor used to be my Rep.; always thought he was a decent guy for a Conservadem but his nonchalance is sickening. I did like MaryF’s comments under the article, though.

  93. 93
    Chris Dowd says:

    Uhh- is anyone else simply jaw dropped at how useless the cable news channels are doing on this story? Not much better is the print media. I mean this is a huge story and regular programming is still going on?

  94. 94
    tc125231 says:

    Decades of onlsaught by Republicans (and many Democrats, as well) and business friendly interests have led to the complete inability or unwillingness of government to regulate our food safety, our water, our financial markets, our mines, and now, tragically, our offshore drilling programs. And in every case, defanging the regulators has led to expensive disasters. All so a select few can make more and more money.

    For once, Cole has approached Calvin’s Circle of Inner Wisdom.

  95. 95
    madmommy says:

    @Chris Dowd:

    You can get better coverage locally than from the national media. Try http://www.wwltv.com or http://www.nola.com, which is the site for the NOLA paper.

  96. 96
    Zach says:

    @kay: Do any of the states in question have such laws? They can’t take action retroactively… not a lawyer, but it seems like the responsible parties have to pay under common law… Exxon paid in 1989 even though the Federal law mandating that they do so didn’t exist yet. Maybe the point is hold BP responsible for funding any Federal response even though BP might claim it was an unreasonably expensive one?

    Anyway, I own a small amount of BP stock and I’m not even considering dumping it … of course the theory in buying it was that they were coming out of a slump of refinery explosions, spills, etc, and were somewhat more on top of clean energy than the other oil companies. So much for that. I don’t understand why we can’t just detonate some sort of explosive at the point where the oil’s coming out and plug the well… it’s probably good that I got out of engineering some time ago.

  97. 97
    someguy says:

    I fail to see how BP continues to exist as a corporation. And they should be destroyed:

    Anybody with a rank over gas station attendent ought to be executed. I can’t believe what these fuckers have done.

  98. 98
    kay says:

    @Zach:

    Well, sure. I would think so, just looking at the section you mentioned, when I read the whole thing. Louisiana has state water protection laws. They have a state agency that protects air and water, too. As many as five states are going to be affected. If the oil is showing up in their marshes, they almost have to sue.
    I basically agree with you. There will be a mad rush to palm off liability, and I don’t pretend to know how that will come out, or who owes whom, but it looks like the states can sue, because the CWA doesn’t preempt, barring some massive “global” ( fed and states) settlement.
    My state EPA has been gutted completely (Ohio) and that happened when the enforcement mechanism was taken out of the state EPA and put under the state department of agriculture, so that’s a concern.
    I’ll have to check again but I think I found the Oil Pollution Act you mentioned under the Department of Agriculture. I’m not sure what it’s doing there, unless it’s “fisheries”, hence Dep of Ag?
    Let’s hope the whole state-fed mechanism hasn’t been rendered useless.

  99. 99
    Digital Amish says:

    Obviously the solution to averting these kinds of disasters is to shrink the size of government to where it can be drowned in an oil slick and to then explore market based solutions.

  100. 100
    MikeBoyScout says:

    Has anyone heard whether or not BP has started hiring clean-up workers for when this shit hits the beaches?

    It’ll take thousands.
    It is inevitable.
    Surely this responsible company has posted ads and has multiple hiring centers up and running. No??

    I’m SHOCKED!

  101. 101
    Zach says:

    @kay: This is the bill I’m referring to: http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/......r.01465:/

  102. 102
    Zach says:

    @MikeBoyScout: Obviously it doesn’t make this good on the whole, but I wonder whether the worse environmental scenario might mean could economic stimulus (in the short term) for a region that’s not fairing so well… I guess there’s a balance between jobs & economic activity generated by cleanup expenditures and lost opportunities in tourism, agriculture, fishing, etc. There has to be a bright side somewhere, right?

    Listening to Salazar & Napolitano on TV this morning, they were very adamant that Gulf drilling would continue apace (although the proposed expansion is presumably on hold). They expressed concern with hampering Gulf oil production in this economy… ironic if Gulf producers are saved by the great recession.

  103. 103
    D-Chance. says:

    Constitutionality, and the oil spill… Kleiman.

  104. 104
    kay says:

    @D-Chance.:

    That’s very funny. Thanks.

  105. 105
    Mr Furious says:

    I can go down to the local ACE Hardware and buy a valve that shuts off the water if my washing machine hose bursts. Not a remote, not a dead man switch, but a thing that senses uncontrolled flow and shuts it off.

    Why the fuck doesn’t any pipeline, riser, well, etc have redundant versions of something like this on a grand scale?

    And at least one located subterraneal so a collapsed rig doesn’t damage it?

    (Yeah, I know the answer: Oil companies are too fucking greedy to spend a few hundred thou on that for a rig that’s worth a billion dollars.)

  106. 106
    kay says:

    @Zach:

    It is just very difficult to listen to Bobby Jindal speaking of this as if it were a natural disaster. It’s not. This is the person who runs around the country preaching the doctrine of deregulation and the magic of markets. Now that it blew up in his face, and they can’t fix it, he’s weeping and moaning. Nice for him that there’s a big, fat federal law that was put in place long before he got so ambitious, to save his ass, and perhaps pony up with some compensation. Maybe now he’ll stop bitching when they regulate.

  107. 107
    El Cid says:

    @BR: I should have said “Anglo”.

    And yes, Mexico will be in even more trouble as oil becomes less of an input. Their economy has suffered multiple shocks over the past couple of decades — and NAFTA hasn’t helped domestic production in the slightest, either. Agriculture is being busted apart by imports. With rising prices, they will experience a slight bubble, but there’s no coherent national approach to development ever since the last decade of the PRI dictatorship, and ever since then it’s been malarkey about ‘free trade’ and ‘privatization’ and whatever trendy economic nostrum of U.S.-led advisors is handy.

  108. 108
    maryQ says:

    As a former half-term governor once said: “These are the things that so many of these aspects of the private sector could be run better if government would just get out of the way”. Also.

  109. 109
    Socraticsilence says:

    Am I the only one who see’s the “Obama’s Katrina” formulation and thinks of those PeTA posters which compare Chicken Farming to the Holocaust- I mean I get that the environmental impact will be devastating but establsihing and equvalence between teh two is frankly offensive, the actions by the executives in question are disparate and more importantly- one killed 1,500+ people the other 11 people in the intitial accident and millions of non-humans in the aftermath. It does give one an insight into how Wingnuts and others value non-white lives though.

  110. 110
    El Cid says:

    This is Obama’s Katrina because it, like, involves Louisiana, and water, and bad stuff, and also because Obama’s black.

  111. 111
    Mnemosyne says:

    I wish I could have some confidence in my fellow Americans that this incident (along with the financial meltdown and long string of food-related poisonings, among other regulatory disasters) would actually get them to realize that the government should be protecting citizens from corporate interests, but then I see fucking morons complaining about the heavy hand of the government unfairly preventing banks from cheating customers out of their money and I know that we’re all doomed.

  112. 112
    El Cid says:

    @Mnemosyne: CUT ALL THE TAXES! STOP ALL DA SPENDIN’! GET GUBMIT OUT OF DA WAY OF BIZNESS! FREEDOM!

    ALSO, CLOSE THE BORDER! PLUS KEEP ALL THE FREE TRADE! BUY AMERICAN! BUY AT WALMART! STOP ALL THE APOLOGY TOURS!

  113. 113
    DPirate says:

    You’d think someone would have found a way to suck up surface oil and separate out the sea water by now. Considering the stuff they have to process out of crude anyway, it ought to be viable, especially given the amount of oil this thing is going to spew. I wonder how many millions to create a floating refinery?

  114. 114
    kay says:

    @El Cid:

    This is Obama’s Katrina because it, like, involves Louisiana, and water, and bad stuff, and also because Obama’s black.

    That’s not what’s infuriating. Pretending this is a natural disaster is what’s infuriating.
    If they can’t even get cause and effect right, we’re completely screwed.
    They should absolutely nail Obama on pandering on drilling.
    What they shouldn’t do is compare an oil company failure to a hurricane. How freaking convenient is it for BP that they’re ignoring the cause of the disaster, and going straight to federal response time? They’re treating it like a natural disaster.
    That has to be deliberate, by media, adopting this particular GOP meme. It’s too stupid to be anything else.

  115. 115
    ET says:

    This just isn’t Obama’s fault. This is just a consequences of bad/lazy/greedy decision after decision. Louisiana has for years been relying on oil & gas revenues one was or another. When technology made it possible to go after crude they couldn’t/wouldn’t before because it was too expensive oil rigs got more popular. Now other states want them because they think it is easy no risk money. Well I hope they are paying attention because there is no such thing as no risk when it comes to rigs. The money gained on this one rig can’t be more than the costs that it is going to clean this shit up, the loss of the seafood industry, the loss of those lives, and the nasty and lingering affects.

    This is going to KILL the seafood industry for who knows how long. Some of the shrimpers really do live close to the margins. First Katrina now this.

  116. 116
    redoubt says:

    @kay: My best friend works for the state of Louisiana. He told me he had one day off for a year after Katrina.

    This looks to be worse.

  117. 117
    brantl says:

    @RedKitten: For the WIN.

    And somebody answer me this: Why haven’t the major oil companies had to put money into a kitty for spill removal? So that they would actually have to have the wherewithal to clean up their own mess? And why isn’t Grayson, at least, suggesting this? Or Kucinich? Where the hell is the Senate on this?

    And now these assholes have failed, by definition, they’ll be “too big to fail”, won’t they?

  118. 118
    brantl says:

    It’s called a plutonomy, where the economy is managed for the welfare of the rich. We could call it plutofare, too.

  119. 119
    twiffer says:

    hmmm…

    “There was a big debate under the Bush administration whether or not to require additional oil drilling safeguards but [federal regulators] decided not to require any additional mandatory safeguards, believing the industry would be motivated to do it themselves,” Carl Pope, Chairman of the Sierra Club told ABC News. [emp. mine]

    since when is industry ever motivated to increase safeguards without (vigorously enforced) regulation? if we let them have their way, they’d still be dumping toxic waste straight into rivers.

  120. 120
    LC says:

    Despite all the the rhetoric and resistance to re-regulation, there are solid reasons why so much of that regulation, ditched in the past 30 years, was enacted in the first place. We are now paying a terrible price for the let-unbridled-greed-free-to-take-its-course majority political sentiment in vogue in the US since the Reagan Administration.

    Now we hear that fear of big government is high in the US. I for one don’t fear big government. I fear the lack of morality and personal accountability of my fellow Americans hell bent on personal gain at the expense of the greater good of the community.

    Americans have clearly demonstrated they need a big government to act as a policeman because they are incapable or unwilling to police themselves. The US has become a land of unruly, selfish children.

  121. 121

    ya know, i’m no fan if the Chinese government, and even less a fan of the death penalty, but in a country like ours that executes retarded people and people who are clearly victims of judicial misconduct, would it be too much to publicly hang or otherwise put down a couple of CEOs with blood (or in this case oil) on their hands?

    THAT is what i want to see: the CEO of BP hanging from a Gallows, and i am not being snarkalicious AT ALL.

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