BP BS on Stilts

The Washington Post dutifully stenographs a sterling example of political three-card monte in the service of the Plutonomy:

Money concerns didn’t drive Deepwater Horizon decisions, panel counsel says
The chief counsel for the president’s oil spill commission said Monday that concerns about money didn’t drive key decisions made on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig before the April 20 blowout that caused a massive oil spill and killed 11 people.
The conclusion is good news for BP, which has been widely criticized for letting concerns about the roughly $1.5 million a day cost of the drilling rig affect choices that might have prevented the blowout.
“To date, we have not seen a single instance where a human being made a conscious decision to favor dollars over safety,” said Fred Bartlit, general counsel for the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling.
He added that he didn’t believe that rig workers “want to risk their lives or the lives of their buddies.” He said: “I’ve been on a lot of rigs, and I don’t believe people sit there and say, ‘This is really dangerous, but the guys in London will make more money.’ We don’t see a concrete situation where people made a trade-off of safety for dollars.”
BP made the operation riskier with a number of decisions, said Sean Grimsley, one of the commission investigators…
“We think they introduced a certain amount of risk into the situation that may not have been necessary,” Grimsley said…
“The question is, why these experienced men out on that rig talked themselves into believing that this was a good test that established well integrity,” he said. “None of these men out of that rig wanted to die.”

Notice the deft and expert misdirection! The story is no longer: BP corporate policy was to cut corners wherever possible in order to improve the profits available to the executives in the corner office, a policy that eventually led to the deaths of 19 workers and an enormous environmental disaster.

The new, improved, plutonomy-friendly story is: It would be cruel and unproductive to blame well-intentioned middle managers and hard-working rig employees of deliberately making decisions that would kill their fellows and negatively affect the company’s bottom line.

This is why the ‘Kaplan Daily‘ is still publishing. In the days of a dying empire, the strategic skills — and strong stomach — required to re-write current events to better serve the Narrative preferred by the ruling class are a very, very valuable asset.

Global warming vs. healthcare reform ctd.

Joe Romm responds at great length to my post on global warming vs. healthcare reform. I think we’re running into a simple disagreement of priority here. Romm is obviously very concerned with climate change. It is his specialty and his focus on the subject makes him more concerned with climate change legislation than with healthcare reform. That’s fine, we’re all entitled to our priorities.

I’m not going to go into great length countering each and every one of Romm’s points. Suffice to say, he – like many commenters here – sees the risk of not tackling climate change as a very real, clear and present danger. He has a great deal of scientific data which shows the possible effects of climate change now and in the future and it’s pretty scary stuff. I completely agree that something should be done, must be done. He also says that he never said healthcare reform shouldn’t be done at all. Likewise, I never said climate change legislation should never be done at all. We both were arguing over which should take priority. Romm seems to have twisted my argument in such a way as to imply that I don’t favor any action at all on climate change. On the contrary, I favor a carbon tax.

However, I don’t think climate change legislation was possible as the first priority and I think tackling it would have almost certainly killed healthcare reform as well. I think it can be done as a second-term, hopefully post-recession piece of legislation and it can be done through the reconciliation process, but not until there’s enough Democrats on board to get 51 votes in the Senate, and I don’t think there are in an election year.

Read more


Bill McKibben and his co-conspirators attempt to rehabilitate the reputation of American History’s Greatest Monster and “Bring solar power back to the White House“:

A few of us have spent the past week carefully transporting a relic of American history down the East Coast, trying to return it to the White House, where it belongs.
It’s not a painting spirited from the Lincoln Bedroom or an antique sideboard stolen from the Roosevelt Room by some long-ago servant. No, this relic comes from the somewhat more prosaic Carter roof. It’s a solar panel, one of a large array installed on top of the White House in June 1979.
When he dedicated the panels, President Jimmy Carter made a prophecy that, like many oracles, came true in unexpected fashion — in fact, nothing better illustrates both why the world is heating and why the American economy is falling behind its competitors.
“In the year 2000 this solar water heater behind me will still be here supplying cheap, efficient energy,” he said. “A generation from now this solar heater can either be a curiosity, a museum piece, an example of a road not taken, or it can be just a small part of one of the greatest and most exciting adventures ever undertaken by the American people.” …

Anybody here can tell us more about McKibben’s 10-10-10 Global Work Party?

About that offshore drilling moratorium

Over at Think Progress, Ben Armbruster points to the explosion of an oil and gas rig 80 miles off the Louisiana coast today, noting that just yesterday one of the senior employees at Mariner Energy, the company which owns the rig, had this to say about the offshore drilling moratorium:

“I have been in the oil and gas industry for 40 years, and this administration is trying to break us,” said Barbara Dianne Hagood, senior landman for Mariner Energy, a small company. “The moratorium they imposed is going to be a financial disaster for the gulf coast, gulf coast employees and gulf coast residents.”

Of course, the many gloom and doom predictions about the moratorium have not come to pass:

Unemployment claims related to the oil industry along the Gulf Coast have been in the hundreds, not the thousands, and while oil production from the gulf is down because of the drilling halt, supplies from the region are expected to rebound in future years. Only 2 of the 33 deepwater rigs operating in the gulf before the BP rig exploded have left for other fields.

While it is too early to gauge the long-term environmental or economic effects of the release of 4.9 million barrels of oil into the gulf, it now appears that the direst predictions about the moratorium will not be borne out. Even the government’s estimate of the impact of the drilling pause — 23,000 lost jobs and $10.2 billion in economic damage — is proving to be too pessimistic.

So the costs of the moratorium have been minimal – much less than predicted – and already we’ve seen a second rig explode in the Gulf this year. The oil industry should realize by now that cleaning up after a disaster is a far more expensive, messy process than ensuring that it doesn’t happen in the first place. It’s also terrible PR. But, of course, the oil industry does not realize that. Until each rig is inspected and safety on these rigs is ensured, I don’t see how the government can do anything but impose a moratorium. Of course, activist judges think they know better. I wonder how many more spills and explosions need to occur before we implement sensible safety and precautionary measures in our oil rigs? Kicking the costs down the road until something really bad happens is certainly not the answer, even if it is the likely outcome even of a disaster the size and scope of the BP oil spill.

Unlike the Deepwater Horizon, this explosion occurred in shallow water, operating at about 340 feet instead of 5,000 which makes any complications from a spill much more manageable. This, and the fact that no workers were killed, make up the story’s silver lining.

More on the explosion here.

A Small Victory

Good, strong statement from Mann:

An Albemarle County Circuit Court judge has set aside a subpoena issued by Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli to the University of Virginia seeking documents related to the work of climate scientist and former university professor Michael Mann.

Judge Paul M. Peatross Jr. ruled that Cuccinelli can investigate whether fraud has occurred in university grants, as the attorney general had contended, but ruled that Cuccinelli’s subpoena failed to state a “reason to believe” that Mann had committed fraud.

The ruling is a major blow for Cuccinelli, a global warming skeptic who had maintained that he was investigating whether Mann committed fraud in seeking government money for research that showed that the earth has experienced a rapid, recent warming. Mann, now at Penn State University, worked at U-Va. until 2005.

According to Peatross, the Virginia Fraud Against Taxpayers Act, under which the civil investigative demand was issued, requires that the attorney general include an “objective basis” to believe that fraud has been committed. Peatross indicates that the attorney general must state the reason so that it can be reviewed by a court, which Cuccinelli failed to do.

Here’s Mann:

“I’m very pleased that the judge has ruled in our favor,” he said in a statement. “It is a victory not just for me and the university, but for all scientists who live in fear that they may be subject to a politically-motivated witch hunt when their research findings prove inconvenient to powerful vested interests.