Probe Opened into BP

And their stock just fell off a cliff:

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said Tuesday that the Justice Department has launched a criminal investigation into the massive oil spill spreading through the Gulf of Mexico.

Holder said the investigation would be comprehensive and aggressive. He promised that the federal officials will prosecute anyone who broke the law.

Holder, who made the announcement during a visit to the Gulf, called early signs of the spill heartbreaking and tragic. The attorney general was in the Gulf to survey the BP oil spill and meet with state attorneys general and federal prosecutors from Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi, according to the Justice Department.

In May, a group of senators — including Environment and Public Works Committee Chair Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-California — sent Holder a letter expressing concerns “about the truthfulness and accuracy of statements submitted by BP to the government in its initial exploration plan for the site,” and asking Holder to investigate possible criminal and civil wrongdoing.

And now, in the next 24 hours, we watch all the Republicans and their talking heads in the media suddenly shift gears from “Why is Obama not doing enough to hold BP accountable” to “Why is Obama attacking big businesses and destroying our economy.” And they’ll do it without missing a beat.

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73 replies
  1. 1
    norbizness says:

    I gain similar satisfaction from predicting that it’s going to be fucking hot in Texas this summer.

  2. 2
    pablo says:

    Plamegate
    Torture
    Election Fraud
    US Attorney Purge
    01 energy summit

    oh, just off the top of my head.

    When is Obama going to take office?

  3. 3
    El Cid says:

    On this:

    now, in the next 24 hours, we watch all the Republicans and their talking heads in the media suddenly shift gears from “Why is Obama not doing enough to hold BP accountable” to “Why is Obama attacking big businesses and destroying our economy.” And they’ll do it without missing a beat.

    You watch: they’ll be making both points simultaneously, because they are 100%, completely immune to awareness of contradiction, hypocrisy, or irony.

    Good on Holder, though.

  4. 4
    Dork says:

    So what’s up with the announcement that they’re not trying anymore w/r/t stopping the flow? That doesn’t preclude the top hat thing, does it?

  5. 5
    SpotWeld says:

    See Obama is supposed to do more (i.e. spend money and convince people to donate labor to the clean up so BP doesn’t have to foot the bill) and do less (i.e. hands off BP.. Soc@list!!)

  6. 6
    Felanius Kootea (formerly Salt and freshly ground black people) says:

    And now, in the next 24 hours, we watch all the Republicans and their talking heads in the media suddenly shift gears from “Why is Obama not doing enough to hold BP accountable” to “Why is Obama attacking big businesses and destroying our economy.” And they’ll do it without missing a beat.

    I watched Rachel Maddow’s piece on the ’79 Ixtoc I spill and how the methods being tried today unsuccessfully are no different from what was tried 31 years ago, unsuccessfully. Is there a way we can clone her and get more reporters to, you know, investigate rather than parrot?

  7. 7
    MikeJ says:

    @Dork: The only thing that will stop the flow as far as I know is a relief well, They haven’t stopped, but it will be some time before it is done.

    The LMRP is supposed to capture the oil as it comes out. If they capture all of it, it’s as good as stopping the flow, at least in the short term.

  8. 8
    kay says:

    Holder should be measured by what dollar figure he manages to wring out of BP.

    You guys are all about justice. I just want the money.

    It might be two birds, one stone, anyway. They’re all about the money too, so we’re on the same page.

  9. 9
    c u n d gulag says:

    Republicans: We hate government and wasteful spending.
    BP: Don’t charge US for the cost of the cock-up. Charge the U.S. taxpayer.
    Republicans: OK!!!
    Aren’t these like the matter and anti-matter particles that meet, collide, and obliterate one another?
    I’m waiting for Republicans to spontaniously self-combust. But then, I’e been watching this shit for decades and ain’t seen one yet.
    How do voters NOT see this shit?
    SATSQ; FOX News and Retard talk radio…

  10. 10
    Jay B. says:

    And now, in the next 24 hours, we watch all the Republicans and their talking heads in the media suddenly shift gears from “Why is Obama not doing enough to hold BP accountable” to “Why is Obama attacking big businesses and destroying our economy.” And they’ll do it without missing a beat.

    Similarly, many Juicers will segue immediately and easily from “What can Obama possibly do, send a stern letter after using the Bully Pulpit?” and “If you go after BP right now, you hinder their expertise” into “See? I knew the Administration would do the right thing and get tough on BP.”

    Good on Boxer and the Administration, though:

    In May, a group of senators—including Environment and Public Works Committee Chair Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-California—sent Holder a letter expressing concerns “about the truthfulness and accuracy of statements submitted by BP to the government in its initial exploration plan for the site,” and asking Holder to investigate possible criminal and civil wrongdoing.

  11. 11
    Bill E Pilgrim says:

    @Dork: Bloomberg made a misleading post that they were giving up, when it was really referring to the Coast Guard guy saying earlier that they were giving up on the top kill attempt to plug it, and going to this current thing to saw it off and etc.

    Then everyone started repeating it.

    UPDATE II: BP spokesperson John Curry denied reports of any problems with the Lower Marine Rise Package, which begins drilling today. Reports that BP had canceled all rescue plans were based on a headline from Bloomberg: Efforts to End Oil Flow From BP’s Leaking Well Are Over, Coast Guard Says. While BP is ending efforts to halt the flow, it will continuing efforts to capture the flow.

    http://www.businessinsider.com.....z0pdCHWdP2

  12. 12
    DarrenG says:

    @Jay B.:

    I’ll admit I haven’t read all of the myriad comments on the recent oil spill threads here, but I’ve read a fair number and I don’t recall a single BJer suggest that nothing can, or should, be done to hold BP accountable.

    Most of the recent threads have been pointing out the futility and pointlessness of emo lefties who wanted Obama to get angry and kick BP off all operational aspects of the spill as a salve to their hurt feelings. Big difference between that and holding them legally and financially responsible for their actions.

  13. 13
    kay says:

    @Jay B.:

    Similarly, many Juicers will segue immediately and easily from “What can Obama possibly do, send a stern letter after using the Bully Pulpit?” and “If you go after BP right now, you hinder their expertise” into “See? I knew the Administration would do the right thing and get tough on BP.”

    I don’t think that’s accurate, though, Jay. The DOJ were down there, from April 30th. Holder wouldn’t announce a criminal investigation without a prelim. And, predictably, he didn’t.
    He didn’t just arrive today and announce without the prior month’s groundwork, groundwork that the media (and James Carville) ignored.
    That’s pretty much lightening speed. I don’t know that it can done in less than a month.

  14. 14
    kay says:

    @Jay B.:

    The Justice Department announced on April 30 that a team of Justice Department lawyers had been sent to “monitor” the spill and make sure environmental laws were enforced.

    “The British Petroleum oil spill has already cost lives and created a major environmental incident,” Holder said in a statement at the time. “The Justice Department stands ready to make available every resource at our disposal to vigorously enforce the laws that protect the people who work and reside near the Gulf, the wildlife, the environment and the American taxpayers.”

  15. 15
    fucen tarmal says:

    ok, now they have my attention.

    won’t someone think of the snapper?

    we are losing out on delicious red snapper, even liz cheney should be outraged!

  16. 16
    Martin says:

    Obama said no more joint pressers. He doesn’t want any gov officials on the same stage as BP. I think it’s time punches start getting thrown.

    I have heard a tiny little rumor that after Obama told Secretary Chu to camp out in BP headquarters, that Chu came back and gave an unfavorable opinion of how BP was handling things. Management had largely been kicked out of the containment team, but BP then declared that leaking info from the containment team was having a detrimental effect on the stock and management jumped back in again. If management is influencing the effort, then I think Obama is done with them. Word is that the Feds are meeting with various drilling experts around the world without BP. They might be preparing to take this mess over more formally.

  17. 17
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    Wouldn’t this probe, or investigation, encompass not only BP but also Transocean? And maybe MMS/Interior? Maybe even (ohpleaseohpleaseohplease) the Cheney Secret Energy Commission? In other words, maybe it’s a little bit restricting to say it’s a “probe into BP” when it conceivably could be so much more?

  18. 18
    kay says:

    @DarrenG:

    Well, Boxer’s letter was nice. but since it came after the DOJ had been dispatched, I’m not sure it was needed.
    I don’t have any problem with her doing a “get tough” PR letter, those are valuable, but I’m pretty sure DOJ lawyers don’t need her advice on preserving documents for possible litigation.

  19. 19
    ricky says:

    @Felanius Kootea (formerly Salt and freshly ground black people):

    Is there a way we can clone her and get more reporters to, you know, investigate rather than parrot?

    Even the dead Norwegian Blue from Monty Python could have “investigated” as well as Rachel Maddow did by running archived NBC footage from 1979.

    Even Rachel, while mentioning Transocean now owns SEDCO, which drilled the Ixtoc well, failed to note the company was founded by then Texas Governor Bill Clements, whose proposed solution for threatened Texas beaches was “pray for a hurricane.”

  20. 20
    Martin says:

    @Bill E Pilgrim:

    Bloomberg made a misleading post that they were giving up, when it was really referring to the Coast Guard guy saying earlier that they were giving up on the top kill attempt to plug it, and going to this current thing to saw it off and etc.

    The info I read came via ZeroHedge. I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if someone shorting BP didn’t give it a nice spin on the way out the interwebs. I see shit like that all the time.

  21. 21
    AxelFoley says:

    BP had to know this was coming, lol.

  22. 22
    Jay B. says:

    @DarrenG:

    Yeah. Right.

    That’s what some people thought “The Left” was saying, but really, it was entirely made of straw. It was literally #11 on a list some FDL apostate wrote, after some things that the Administration was doing and somethings it hadn’t.

    @kay:

    And I’m glad that they’ve followed through on it. Of course, if Martin @ 16 is right and “Obama said no more joint pressers. He doesn’t want any gov officials on the same stage as BP. I think it’s time punches start getting thrown.” Well, one wonders why that wasn’t entirely the strategy from the start, especially when the DoJ was going down there to investigate anyway. Does the government normally pose with suspects? At the very least, BP still has to answer for the deaths of 11 people and the apparent detainment of others.

    Which, of course, goes to the larger point that Obama let BP drag him down because of his normal over-accommodating approach to problems. This, I know, makes me an “emo” or whatever, because I tend to view corporations with even more skepticism than I view politicians and would, at my ever-advancing age, like to see Big Oil get everything they so richly deserve after killing the Gulf Coast.

  23. 23
    scav says:

    @Bill E Pilgrim: It is surreal the way info has been lapped and re-echoed and flying about this whole incident for days. Despite the live ROV feeds and tweets and blips and bleeps whatever, they’ve gone on making press announcements from redundant sources (BP, USCG) after things have been vetted by whoever it might be as though newspapers were still using hand-set type. The Bloomfield announcement of the Top Kill abort pretty much neatly coincided with the big claw pulling away after merely squishing the pipe and whammo!

    Too Funny.

    And after everything whiz-bang that has been tried, the little ROVs with skill saws keep plugging away. The Little Engine That Could crossed with the Fun Fair Toy Claws that I could never get to work.

  24. 24
    eyepaddle says:

    Y’know, that’d be funny if it wasn’t so manifestly true.

  25. 25
    kay says:

    @Jay B.:

    Well, one wonders why that wasn’t entirely the strategy from the start, especially when the DoJ was going down there to investigate anyway. Does the government normally pose with suspects? At the very least, BP still has to answer for the deaths of 11 people and the apparent detainment of others.

    I don’t know, Jay. I’m not involved in the “emo” business, and I see the value of how things appear, but I’m cutting the lawyers slack if it took them a whole forty days to do a preliminary investigation, and I don’t think Holder should be shooting his mouth off using the word “criminal” unless he has something.

  26. 26
    Bill E Pilgrim says:

    @Martin: Yeah but that was just a quote from the Bloomberg piece, I saw that also. Or maybe it was your link I followed there.

    I wouldn’t put it past either one of them, of course. But I suspect just a writer who didn’t really understand what had been said.

  27. 27
    Bill E Pilgrim says:

    @scav: That’s what I’ve been reflecting on also. That we’re able to sit here and get live feeds from robots sawing pipes a mile underwater, in real time. And at the same time, can’t figure out how to keep ourselves from having the whole thing blow up and fill the Gulf Of Mexico with oil.

    And similarly, that we’re so interconnected with instant information on the Internet and it still all operates based on rumor spreading in exactly the same ways it did a thousand years ago.

    It’s like someone gave a bunch of chimpanzees a chemistry set and ham radio kit and then stood back to watch and laugh.

  28. 28
    DarrenG says:

    @Jay B.:

    It was hardly limited to the one random FDLer. There were plenty of links over the weekend to similar idiocy from Carville, Crowley and others in Big Media, various Kossacks, etc.

    And again, to your original point, I don’t see much of anything in that comment thread suggesting nothing should be done to BP and plenty of posts suggesting quite the opposite.

  29. 29
    Jay B. says:

    @kay:

    Yeah, that’s the way it works. I’m sure that’s how it’s working now. They’ve totally sewn up the case and have everything they need to start moving on the “criminal” part of it.

    Or, rather, what part of:

    Holder said the investigation would be comprehensive and aggressive. He promised that the federal officials will prosecute anyone who broke the law.

    Wasn’t entirely appropriate the day after the Deepwater Horizon blew up? This is the kind of aggressive stance that seems both entirely correct and politically understandable. The Administration already had the DoJ investigating, quietly, and has seemingly given BP a ton of latitude (allowing them to even threaten journalists away from the Louisiana coast) — I wonder what’s changed, other than opening their eyes to the political reality?

  30. 30
    Bill says:

    “Holder said the investigation would be comprehensive and aggressive. He promised that the federal officials will prosecute anyone who broke the law.”

    That’s just adorable. However, I would rather AG Holder, his boss, and the rest of us look forward, not backward.

  31. 31
    Zifnab says:

    Here we go. Now you are talking. I don’t have a heaping ton of faith that this is going to pan out – I think the AIG case just got dropped last month – but at the very least we are moving in the right direction.

    John, when you were asking “But what can Obama do?” This is it. This is the thing he needs to do. Aggressive legal action. That’s the only thing a government entity can reliably accomplish. And he’s doing it. And that’s good.

  32. 32
    Paula says:

    @Jay B.:

    So what’s the problem? You acknowledge that the admin probably had the DOJ investigating early on but that something “changed” about the way they’re handling it now?

    As for handling the spill directly, I think people have suggested that the gov’t doesn’t want to be on the hook for any “failed” attempts at plugging the leak. Either that or we simply don’t have the kind of technical resources that an oil company does.

  33. 33
    slag says:

    @Jay B.:

    I wonder what’s changed, other than opening their eyes to the political reality?

    I’m now confident that the phrase “the political reality” can go into the same junkyard of empty rhetoric that the phrase “average American” and pretty much everything David Brooks has ever written go into.

    In this case, using the phrase “the political reality” to supplant the phrase “my uniformed opinion” is even worse because it enables you to continue to passively hold your opinion in spite of the fact that you have just been presented with evidence that runs directly contrary to it. You have become a pliant victim of your own ignorance and rather than admit that problem you choose to pass it onto somebody else by characterizing said ignorance as “the political reality”.

    Disturbing. Truly disturbing.

  34. 34
    joe from Lowell says:

    I’m all for aggressive legal action, but it isn’t a strategy for capping the spill.

    And since the emo performance was about what Obama was doing or not doing to stop the spill, I don’t see how this actions proves them right.

  35. 35
    joe from Lowell says:

    This is classic Obama.

    While a million excitable sorts and political opponents are running around like chickens with their heads cut off and attacking him for not doing the same, he and his people are quietly plugging away at the job, and they come out with their response when they’re good and ready.

    If Barack Obama doesn’t suspend his campaign RIGHT NOW, he won’t have a prayer against McCain in November.

  36. 36
    Mnemosyne says:

    I think we need a “Goldilocks Progressives” tag, because I’m getting a little tired of the people whining that, sure, Obama did what they wanted, but he didn’t do it soon enough or fast enough or make it public right away and so therefore it’s just like he didn’t do anything at all.

    See also DADT.

  37. 37
    Mnemosyne says:

    @joe from Lowell:

    I’m all for aggressive legal action, but it isn’t a strategy for capping the spill.

    Ding ding ding ding ding. And yet the people who’ve been complaining about the “sternly worded letters” crack still don’t seem to understand that we have two separate problems right now — a political problem and an engineering problem — and there’s very little that we can do politically to solve the engineering problem.

    It’s great that the ongoing criminal investigation has been confirmed, but it’s going to do approximately jack shit to get the leak plugged up.

  38. 38
    Jay B. says:

    @Paula:

    Um, yeah, they’re treating it as a potentially criminal act. I think that’s appropriate. You?

    You have become a pliant victim of your own ignorance and rather than admit that problem you choose to pass it onto somebody else by characterizing said ignorance as “the political reality”

    What?

    The “emo’s” main critique was that the Administration wasn’t engaged enough in the ramifications of the spill beyond capping the spill. Some wanted the government to “take over” or whatever. OK. I didn’t, but people were/are frustrated. The question here was “What can Obama do?”

    Well, this. I know the DoJ has been investigating, but why wouldn’t this have been the right move from the start?

    This step by the DoJ seems entirely obvious — if slow — but surely, the Administration sees the same polls as I do and pressed the issue a little, no? How is this not observable “political reality”, even if you find it ignorant?

    But since most of you continue to conflate the call for more aggressive federal action (like criminal probes, higher punitive caps, fighting for transparency against BP, a call for a massive alternative energy plan — which they did a little last week — etc.) with “OMG!! Firebaggers want Obama to personally cap the leak!!11!!”, I find the conversation pretty useless.

  39. 39
    kay says:

    @Jay B.:

    BP a ton of latitude (allowing them to even threaten journalists away from the Louisiana coast)—I wonder what’s changed, other than opening their eyes to the political reality?

    I haven’t seen enough on that to believe it. I read the account of one photographer who was barred because he wanted to fly below 3000 feet (an unreasonable demand) and one journalist who claims he was barred, which the Coast Guard flat-out denies.

    Which doesn’t really gibe with the fact that the place is crawling with university research scientists, who were not barred.

    I never bought the “journalists are being threatened!” story.

    I think it’s thin as hell.

  40. 40
    kay says:

    @Jay B.:

    The “journalists are being barred!” story sounds like the “BP kept the injured workers incognito for four days” story, which turned out to be untrue.

    Thinly sourced, to put it mildly.

  41. 41
    Alex S. says:

    I hope it will be “aggressive”, at least a little more aggressive than Holder’s actions against the Bush government and the continuous usage of some of their measures by the Obama administration.

  42. 42
    kay says:

    @Jay B.:

    This step by the DoJ seems entirely obvious—if slow—but surely, the Administration sees the same polls as I do and pressed the issue a little, no? How is this not observable “political reality”, even if you find it ignorant?

    You really think 40 days to complete a preliminary investigation into the biggest oil spill in US history is “slow”?

    Jesus. You better be a master of efficiency at your own job.

  43. 43
    Paula says:

    @joe from Lowell:

    That’s probably because it doesn’t. If they want to punish BP for all it’s worth, then gov’t keeping its hands off the whole “rescue” effort while conducting an investigation into their incompetence is possibly the best thing that could have happened. This is such a PR nightmare that even people who claim to defend the oil industry and the free market are going to have trouble arguing against wanting BP’s figurative heads to roll, particularly if Holder’s DOJ are doing their jobs well.

    But once again, this is confusing a very specific problem (preventing oil from leaking/spreading or lessening our consumption) with a generalized/ideological position like “bringing down corporations” or “all offshore drilling should be banned right now”. I would argue that if Holder’s got a good case against BP and/or the environmental lobby press the issue then this might be set up as a watershed moment for the oil industry and America’s transition into a greener economy, but it’s the beginning of a long road. In the meantime, we’ve killed Southern LA’s coastline. But if the gov’t could and would have stepped in, it would have been gov’t helping out yet another private company in a mess of their own making. And there’s no guarantee that the gov’t would be quicker in trying to stop the flow.

  44. 44
    Jay B. says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    And yet the people who’ve been complaining about the “sternly worded letters” crack still don’t seem to understand that we have two separate problems right now—a political problem and an engineering problem—and there’s very little that we can do politically to solve the engineering problem.

    No shit?

    Actually what’s really happening is that you in the bubble here continually talk past the rest of us. Sure #11 on someone’s list is that the Administration needs to be more vocal. Well, OK. Opinions differ. Sometimes someone says Obama has to personally supervise the clean up! And that’s obviously idiotic. But what you guys do is take that to be the default position for anyone who thinks that the Administration “wasn’t doing enough” regarding the spill.

    You take that to be a literal impulse to cap the spill. It’s the stupidest possible interpretation of what someone can mean, but it’s pleasing to think “Goldilock progressives” are just hyper idiots, blind to the genius of the Administration.

    Largely, the frustration comes from the inability to do anything on the engineering aspect WHILE letting BP set the agenda. From minute one — the “moderate environmental damage” spin that the BP CEO puked out — the oil company has been lying.

    The government needed — and needs — to be the advocate for the people in this matter. It’s natural people are going to be frustrated, but now even Republicans are getting in on the “government involvement” story.

    Wouldn’t now be EXACTLY the time to point out why government is needed, why they need to be effective regulators, why we need an extreme investment in time and money to get away, at last from fossil fuels — in short, this is a perfect opportunity to remind people that the Democratic Party wasn’t the “Drill Baby Drill” party and why that was.

    It’s a crisis and an opportunity. Treating BP like a criminal organization is a nice start.

  45. 45
    Allison W. says:

    I can’t believe we are still arguing over this. Stop the f-ing leak and the politics will take care of itself. In the meantime, do the probes and the overhaul at the MMS and where ever else its needed, keep the public informed and the politics will take care of itself. I am quite troubled that people are talking about political stunts at a time like this. People’s opinions will come around despite what the media and the GOP say. Did any of you hear that the % of people who don’t want to see HCR repealed has gone up by double digits?

  46. 46
    Paula says:

    @Jay B.:

    Jay B, I have no idea what you’re saying. I’m basically trying to make sense of what you wrote about and what your specific problem with the Obama admin was. You seem to be saying they “acted early” and “changed to look like they were acting”, which suggests that you don’t believe they acted early enough.

    You seem to be confusing the criminal investigation of BP with the work actually plugging the spill.

    EDIT: Never mind, you’re talking about people talking about this stuff …

  47. 47
    kay says:

    @Jay B.:

    You actually brought it up, Jay. I have never in my life called anyone “emo”.
    I simply said you were wrong on the date of when the DOJ arrived.
    I think Obama could have done a better job getting out the information on what he was doing, apparently, since so few seem to know it.
    I never want anyone in government to use the word “criminal” unless they mean it, and, actually, in reality, they did not know it was criminal, and they still don’t.

  48. 48
    kay says:

    @Allison W.:

    I agree with you, and thanks for the reminder.

    Get it right and the politics will take care of themselves.

  49. 49
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Jay B.:

    But what you guys do is take that to be the default position for anyone who thinks that the Administration “wasn’t doing enough” regarding the spill.

    The reason that happened was that it seemed like every time we would ask someone exactly what else the government should be doing, it turned out to be an action that the government had initiated weeks before that the person commenting hadn’t bothered to check on. That happened with at least three or four of the “immediate actions” that people were demanding, including the criminal investigation.

    If you’re saying that the administration could have done a better job of making it clear exactly what steps they had taken, well, I can’t really argue with you about that. It’s the people screaming about how the government had to immediately take actions that had already been taken who have been getting on my last nerve.

  50. 50
    Jay B. says:

    @kay:

    OK. Maybe you’re right.

    Maybe not.

    But, sure, it’s possible BP has the safety of journalists at heart.

    The latest instance of denied press access comes from Belle Chasse, La.-based Southern Seaplane Inc., which was scheduled to take a New Orleans Times-Picayune photographer for a flyover on Tuesday afternoon, and says it was denied permission once BP officials learned that a member of the press would be on board.

    The airplane company seems to say they can’t bring any independent folks there:

    “We are not at liberty to fly media, journalists, photographers, or scientists,” the company said in a letter it sent on Tuesday to Sen. David Vitter (R-La.). “We strongly feel that the reason for this massive [temporary flight restriction] is that BP wants to control their exposure to the press.”

    About that 3,000 foot level:

    Since the flight restrictions were expanded on May 11, private aircraft must get permission from BP’s command center to fly over a huge portion of the Gulf of Mexico encompassing not just the growing slick in the Gulf, but the entire Louisiana coastline, where oil is washing ashore. If a request is denied, aircraft must stay 3,000 feet above the restricted area, where visibility is minimal.

    But I’m sure BP wouldn’t lie.

    And, once again, you’re pretty slow on the uptake. “Slow” was treating this as a crime scene. As for the preliminary investigation being “finished” in 40 days — which, as you point out, is awful fast for a federal agency — might just be because the Administration is getting hammered on this, right or wrong. Everything Holder said today, he could have said 40 days ago, after the goddamn rig blew up and people died. Literally.

  51. 51
    kay says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    There seems to be this general panic every time the pundits announce his Presidency is over, or his poll numbers drop.

    For people who make so much fun of pundits and polls, we’ve certainly let them get inside our heads.

  52. 52
    WereBear says:

    @Mnemosyne: It’s the people screaming about how the government had to immediately take actions that had already been taken who have been getting on my last nerve.

    Kudos. All these people complaining what Obama hasn’t been doing what he’s been doing is is very annoying; and yet none of them complained that THE PRESS is supposed to tell people these things, and yet, have not.

    Also, I’ve always loved the phrase, “getting on my last nerve.”

  53. 53
    slag says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    If you’re saying that the administration could have done a better job of making it clear exactly what steps they had taken, well, I can’t really argue with you about that.

    I’m half-tempted to agree with this sentiment, but I’ve been checking out the WH’s webpage detailing their response to this incident and found it pretty comprehensive. Was their megaphone loud enough? Hard to say.

    Since this crisis got going, we’ve been itching to blame something or someone for this situation. Even if we can’t pinpoint exactly what or who, we want to place blame. Along with that, the media wants to create a narrative. And their current narrative is one they already had primed and ready to go since the campaign, even. So, it’s easy to see how the facts get lost in the fray in situations like this one even with the world’s largest megaphone.

    But it’s not easy to see how, once presented with the facts, people persist in maintaining the opinions they held before they had the facts. OK. Technically, it’s easy to see how that happens too. But it’s something we need to stop.

  54. 54
    kay says:

    @Jay B.:

    The Louisiana photographer story is the same one I saw on every liberal blog, just as I saw the PR release from the plaintiff’s lawyer that was treated as gospel.
    The university scientists are hiring fisherman to take them out, which doesn’t really gibe with the “BP is locking down the Gulf” theme.
    There was enough misinformation on dispersants that the US Fish and Wildlife service called the news reporting on that “disingenious”. And it was.
    IMO, you lose credibility when you seize on each and every instance and cry “crime!”
    Again, you can approach this any way you want. But the constant claims that I am naive when what I am is skeptical of both BP and individual anecdotes that are used to promote a narrative gets annoying.
    I want to know what actually happened.

  55. 55
    kay says:

    @slag:

    Was their megaphone loud enough? Hard to say.

    Obama finds himself not getting credit for actual work a lot. That’s a problem. I don’t know which part of his staff are responsible for getting him credit (media, PR, whatever) but I think it’s safe to say they’re doing a poor job.

    Because it keeps happening.

  56. 56
    someguy says:

    Holder should be measured by what dollar figure the amount of human blood he manages to wring out of BP.

    fixed.

  57. 57
    kay says:

    @Jay B.:

    It’s three stories, Jay,and here’s the Coast Guard response:

    The U.S. Coast Guard insists that they and BP have gone to great lengths to accommodate journalists and “roughly 400 members of the media have been given tours of the spill on either BP-contracted aircraft or Coast Guard helicopters,” says U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer David Mosley, who is based at the BP command center in Houma, La. (BP referred all questions to the command center). “I understand there may be some frustration [among the press], but there is a constant ongoing effort to fulfill media requests.”

    I just don’t have this certainty that the Coast Guard are corrupt and acting in collusion with BP. In my experience, Coast Guard act like they own every waterway they work on. I’d be surprised if they started marching lockstep with BP. I don’t think the EPA are captured either.
    I think it was probably chaos down there until they got it organized, and three reporters didn’t get the access they wanted.

  58. 58
    slag says:

    @kay:

    IMO, you lose credibility when you seize on each and every instance and cry “crime!”

    Beyond which, BP were the ones we depended on to have a disaster response plan in place. We needed them. And we needed their resources, especially in the beginning. It’s a sad reality. And running around calling people we were largely dependent on “criminals” before we had the facts certainly was not in our best interest. One might even call it counterproductive.

    A PR battle between the US government and BP is more of a distraction than we really need right now. But I can totally see why it has become necessary. And it is obviously justified.

  59. 59
    Paula says:

    Beyond which, BP were the ones we depended on to have a disaster response plan in place.

    I do wonder about this, though. The US Govt is not an oil company, but what prevents us from straight up seizing THEIR resources and using OUR scientists and engineers when they clearly didn’t know what they were doing? And then just charging all the cleanup work back to the company?

    I mean, in abstract, this is pretty much a coup of a pvt entity by the govt so I understand “why” we have to have some pretty high hoops to jump before this happens. But how bad does it have to get before we’re allowed to kick BP off?

  60. 60
    slag says:

    @kay:

    Obama finds himself not getting credit for actual work a lot. That’s a problem. I don’t know which part of his staff are responsible for getting him credit (media, PR, whatever) but I think it’s safe to say they’re doing a poor job.
    __
    Because it keeps happening.

    Truth. I find myself giving more leeway in situations like these because they are so charged with angst and emotion. They’re PR black holes, in a way.

    In general, we can bitch early and often about how the deck is stacked against them in the “getting credit for stuff” arena, but that doesn’t solve the problem. That said, I don’t know what does solve the problem. There may be people who are better at this kind of thing then the people they have doing it now, but I honestly don’t know who those people are.

    It could be Obama’s disdain for the gossipy assholes who report this stuff that’s causing the problem. But if he ever cozies up more to them, he’ll end up having a different problem with us since we have a similar disdain. Could be a no-win.

  61. 61
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Paula:

    I do wonder about this, though. The US Govt is not an oil company, but what prevents us from straight up seizing THEIR resources and using OUR scientists and engineers when they clearly didn’t know what they were doing? And then just charging all the cleanup work back to the company?

    Apparently the law is a bit tricky — if the government takes over, BP may be able to claim that they’re not financially responsible for any additional cleanup. So I can’t really blame the feds for deciding they’d rather get BP to pay for as much up front as possible rather than trying to get the money out of them later (which was how Exxon was basically let completely off the hook).

  62. 62
    Uloborus says:

    @Jay B.:
    So… flying above 3000 feet IS still okay, and the government is keeping everyone who’s not cleared to be part of the process from flying over the spill area. Someone who does not represent BP or the government thinks this is BP’s rule, but has no backing for that other than suspicion.

    So you have a conspiracy theory based on the government doing something that’s downright predictable in any disaster situation and someone’s speculation. Oh, and if it were a real conspiracy, it would do precisely squat, because there’s no shortage of unpleasant press photos of the spill reaching land, and flying out low over the water is only going to produce photos of… oil on the water, the least horrifying thing anyone could photograph.

    And for some reason you think whether Holder announced the investigation now, the day of the spill, or three months from now is important.

    As for ‘letting BP set the agenda’, do you have any evidence whatsoever that the government is not watching BP every step of the way? Nothing you have pointed out is evidence. For that matter, BP under reporting oil flow is not evidence, because it did not exactly take the government long to find out, and in an accident like this there’s no good reason to even think it was deliberate.

    The plan, like it’s set into law, like it always was, is that BP does all the work while the government looks over BP’s shoulder. How is that not happening? What else could the government do? Do you want the government to yell and scream at BP publically and humiliate them? Why? Other than make you feel better, what good would that do? There’s a criminal investigation – although after the Cheney deregulation years I’m not confident anything they did will turn out to be illegal – and a moratorium until a new regulatory scheme can be put in place. What could the government do that is, you know, useful rather than satisfying for you?

  63. 63
    Paula says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Fuck. Of course.

    I don’t remember all that much about Exxon b/c I was pretty young when it happened, but that would explain the reluctance by the feds to get too directly involved right now.

  64. 64
    slag says:

    @Paula:

    I do wonder about this, though. The US Govt is not an oil company, but what prevents us from straight up seizing THEIR resources and using OUR scientists and engineers when they clearly didn’t know what they were doing?

    First, I’m not convinced that BP clearly didn’t know what they were doing. I am convinced that this is a really hard problem to solve and that no response to it is going to be adequate.

    However, I actually accepted the response that Obama gave in response to this question during the press conference. If I remember correctly, it was along the lines of: When you’re already in the process of implementing a catastrophe response plan, you don’t rush in and change leadership until absolutely necessary because doing so can make a bad situation even worse. I could be misremembering some of that response because it is exactly the response I would have given, so you may not want to take my word for it, per se.

    Also, a lot of the best people working on this stuff are already working in the industry because that’s where the money is. They understand industry-speak better than they understand government-speak.

  65. 65
    kay says:

    @Jay B.:

    All I would add is that an entire theory : “BP is muzzling the press” now rides on an article that begins: “It’s anecdotal, but….” and then two people’s accounts.
    Plus the photographer.
    That’s not enough for me.

  66. 66
    Jay B. says:

    @Uloborus:

    As for ‘letting BP set the agenda’, do you have any evidence whatsoever that the government is not watching BP every step of the way?

    Sure. And when the EPA told them not to use any more dispersants, what happened? Anyone?

    For that matter, BP under reporting oil flow is not evidence, because it did not exactly take the government long to find out, and in an accident like this there’s no good reason to even think it was deliberate.

    Right.

    BP CEO last month to the BBC:

    In an interview with the BBC a month ago, chief executive Tony Hayward attempted to shift the blame for the accident to the US owner of the sunken rig, Transocean. “This was not our accident … This was not our drilling rig … This was Transocean’s rig. Their systems. Their people. Their equipment.”

    More spin-free truth-telling from BP:

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

    Technically true or incredibly tone-deaf? You be the judge.

    When pressed on containment, Hayward added:

    “No, that’s the point you seem to be missing … The containment exercise on the surface is proving to be extraordinarily effective.”

    The “no good reason to think it was deliberate” crack? Yes, I’m the conspiracy minded weirdo:

    The official estimated flow rate of 5,000 barrels per day, a figure repeated by BP, increased last week to between 12,000 and 19,000 barrels. The revision was partly based on new video footage of the leak from the seabed which BP only released following pressure from scientists and the US Congress.

    I don’t believe a thing that BP says about this — why would anyone? I agree with Rep. Markey:

    Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) charged that BP knew how much oil was coming out at the start, but that they “had a stake in lowballing the number right from the very beginning.” As a result, “their focus was not completely on the livability of the Gulf; it was also on the liability of BP,” Markey said. In estimating the figures for how much oil was spilling, BP was “either lying or they were incompetent,” Markey said. “I have no confidence whatsoever in BP,” he added. “I think they do not know what they are doing.” Markey also said that “without question,” the word “criminal” should be used to define the situation that is occurring with the spill in the Gulf.

    How is that even controversial?

    As far as the government goes, well, as everyone here thinks, they don’t have any expertise in this anyway, so even if they look over BP’s shoulder, what does it matter? They aren’t controlling the situation — as everyone agrees they can’t — so it’d be like a four-year old telling their parent how to make brioche.

  67. 67
    kay says:

    @Jay B.:

    Here’s actually what happened with the dispersant issue, after the initial breathless news reports:

    May 25, 2010 1:11 PM PDT
    Less toxic oil dispersants sought for Gulf spill
    by Martin LaMonica

    There are less toxic alternatives to the oil dispersants being used by BP in the Gulf oil spill but there is not enough product available, according to a White House official.

    In morning talk shows on Tuesday, Carol Browner, the president’s adviser on energy, said the EPA is seeking to determine the quantities available of less toxic materials than Corexit, which is being used by BP to break up the oil flowing into the Gulf.

    The Environmental Protection Agency last week issued a directive telling BP to use an alternative dispersant. It also said last week that the EPA and Coast Guard will gather data to verify information provided by BP on which dispersant is the least toxic, most effective, and readily available.

    But even though there are less harmful dispersants, Browner said they are only available in limited quantities.

    “There aren’t as many dispersants…on the shelf available for use,” Browner said. “We do think that dispersants are a part of how we move forward in this difficult situation and so we’re going to be evaluating, determining if others can be manufactured quickly, if others can be brought to the scene. We need to understand what is available,” she said on CNN’s American Morning program.

    Dispersants are designed to break down oil in the water so that they can be absorbed by microbes in the water. But the long-term effects on microbial life and the effectiveness of the method is not clear, according to David Valentine of the University of California at Santa Barbara, who was awarded a National Science Foundation grant to study the effect of the projected 1 million gallons of dispersants in the Gulf spill.

    Chemicals, such as dispersants, are ranked based on a number of environmental safety factors, such as flammability and toxicity. One company that has developed a less toxic dispersant based on EPA criteria is Green Earth Technologies, which makes a line of engine oil made from vegetable oils and released an oil spill cleanup product in April.

    But it isn’t approved by the EPA yet.

  68. 68
    kay says:

    @Jay B.:

    This is what I mean, Jay. The initial headline was “BP refuses EPA order to stop using dispersant”

    THAT wasn’t even accurate. The EPA told them to find a less toxic alternative. I think they’re still looking.

    There’s this sloppy initial reporting, and it never gets corrected.

    BP, the reality, is bad enough, without stretching the truth.

  69. 69
    Makewi says:

    Heck of a job Obama.

  70. 70
    Uloborus says:

    @Jay B.:
    Sigh. The EPA thing? The EPA is not in a position to tell BP what to do or what not to do here, any more or less than they are in a regular situation. The EPA is not the part of the government in charge of the recovery. The government is not one monolithic entity. So, no, that’s a matter between the EPA and BP, and will be handled the way the EPA handles everything – as people referenced above, by going ‘we think you should do it differently’ and BP going ‘sorry, we can’t’, and the government people who make the decision going ‘We think BP’s right this time’.

    And I’m not disputing that BP is going to put spin on this. Sheesh, who wouldn’t? That fact just isn’t relevant. To anything. Nothing you’ve said is evidence of your central premise, that somehow BP is in control of the government here, not the reverse.

    Incidentally, the claim is not ‘the government doesn’t have experts enough to know what’s going on’, the claim is ‘the government doesn’t have the trained engineering teams, equipment, and as many specifically trained scientists to personally do this as well as BP can’. The government has lots of experts who can – and are – reviewing BP’s methods. Which is another reason to think that the best is being done that could be done, because the government hasn’t got a significant vested interest in letting them off the hook.

    Your entire argument seems to be based on rumor, misunderstood reporting, and a general belief that since BP is evil they have to be shafting us really, really hard everywhere.

    Your quoting of Massa seems quite typical. Why would Massa know anything about this situation? He’s a politician who’s not involved but has a strong opinion. Your evidence is just… people’s strong but unfounded opinions. Rumors, basically.

  71. 71
    Uloborus says:

    Heehee, whoops! Markey. It’s the same thing, though. A House Rep is just… not involved, and his personal interest and inclination is bloviating. His opinion isn’t evidence of anything.

  72. 72
    J. A. Baker says:

    John Cole:

    And now, in the next 24 hours, we watch all the Republicans and their talking heads in the media suddenly shift gears from “Why is Obama not doing enough to hold BP accountable” to “Why is Obama attacking big businesses and destroying our economy.” And they’ll do it without missing a beat.

    @El Cid:

    You watch: they’ll be making both points simultaneously, because they are 100%, completely immune to awareness of contradiction, hypocrisy, or irony.

    We have ALWAYS been at war with Eastasia. We have ALWAYS been at war with Eurasia.

  73. 73
    Joe Buck says:

    15% isn’t a cliff. Bankruptcy is a real possibility.

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