It has been over 80 days since BP’s Deepwater Horizon oilrig exploded, gushing what has now amounted to hundreds of thousands of gallons of oil into the Gulf Coast of Mexico. The best (and the worst) part of what is sadly now considered to be fairly old news is the embarrassment of corruption pouring out of both public and private sectors even faster than the rogue oil. Meanwhile, oil continues to flood out of the sunken rig, secrets and lies continue to flood out of BP, Halliburton and Transocean, and angry, baffled citizens continue to cry foul on “Obama’s Katrina.” If Bush’s disastrous experience with Katrina is comparable in any way to Obama’s hot mess in the Gulf, it is that both maintain the element of shock-value. Granted, there is a certain degree of neglect that plagues the Obama Administration as it did for Bush’s. Obama was responsible for allowing BP to proceed with a potentially dangerous drilling proposal without first electing a new head of Minerals Management Service, as Congress would not approve of one until four months later. Although this was a mere two and a half months after he had taken office, Deepwater Horizon was responsible for digging some of the deepest oil wells in history, and was considered to be one of the most powerful rigs ever engineered.
The President has been criticized for exploiting his role as executive, challenging the legitimacy of checks and balances. Although a common theme in US politics, Obama is being blamed for abusing his power for the same reason he is being blamed for everything else. When it comes to the spill, he has two options: Infringe upon the sovereignty of the private sector and of the state, or maintain Bush’s legacy of ignorance and neglect*. President Obama relied on the engineers and professionals of BP, a company that maintains one of the worst reputations for safety and environmental health regulations, and Transocean, a company that has maintained one of the best. In other words, he relied on the private sector.
Bringing new meaning to Public-Private Partnership
Halliburton, one of the world’s largest oilfield services corporations, is also under investigation due to its role in the disaster by providing construction materials and research for the operations. However, Dick Cheney’s Energy Task Force is quite familiar with the politics of covering its own ass. During the month of May, Halliburton contributed $17,000 to congressional candidates in committees responsible for investigating the spill. Distributed among fourteen potential lawmakers, the amount is enough to suggest there are no hard feelings, assuming a representative from the company will actually respond to any of the inquiries…
“Hey, remember that horrific disaster a while back for which you were allegedly responsible?”
“You mean Iraq?”
Bill will know what to do! Remember North Korea? No, not that North Korea
Since the spill, there have been many attempts to seal the explosion and contain the damage. Most of the ideas have been heavily criticized, and all attempted remedies have failed. In previous months, political radio host David Pakman had been criticized for suggesting demolishing the entire oil well. At the recent Global Forum in South Africa, former President Bill Clinton further endorsed the idea saying “Just blow it up!”. A non-nuclear explosion would cover the existing oil and contain the spill, which has been done in the past, and the Navy could effectively do. Fortunately for BP, a representative for the Obama Administration claims the concept has been flatly ruled out. The initiative itself would further impede BP’s political prowess, or what’s left of it. Demolishing the well would disable any future drilling potential; however, the cost to repair the damage and hinder the flood of oil may equate or surpass the earning potential for BP.
Politics, ethics, and cocaine
The rig and operations in the Gulf had failed to meet several safety regulations and monitoring, including the recommended backup shut-off protocol, standard in much of the rest of the world. However, the Minerals Management Service, a bureau within the Department of the Interior responsible for ensuring the execution of such protocol, notably had its own problems. Paul Krugman of the New York Times states: “Given [its] history, it’s not surprising that the Minerals Management Service became subservient to the oil industry — although what actually happened is almost too lurid to believe. According to reports by Interior’s inspector general, abuses at the agency went beyond undue influence: there was ‘a culture of substance abuse and promiscuity’ — cocaine, sexual relationships with industry representatives, and more. Protecting the environment was presumably the last thing on these government employees’ minds.”
Colonel Mustard in the library with a candlestick
The oil spill crisis is a vicious circle: Oil company and government geniuses alike have finally agreed on a “clean first-blame later” policy, but inevitably defer back to finger-pointing in order to protect not only their wallets, but their political agendas, or in other words, their wallets. To put it in simple terms: Transocean engineers a gun, Halliburton provides the blueprint for operating the gun, BP controls the gun, MMS is responsible for ensuring it is used properly, and the Obama Administration negates the right to bear arms (the latter of which is mildly ironic). The oil spill is more than just a case of “who done it?” Oil and tar continue to threaten the Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida Coastline and their inhabitants, including civilians, animals and vegetation. Furthermore, a hurricane in the Gulf would propel the oil either to or from the coastline. Reports project current storms to do little more than shuffle the waters, but the concentration of wind power will accelerate the biodegradation process, which could permanently threaten all life in the region.
For more information on BP’s efforts, please refer to the following: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2AAa0gd7ClM
*Please note this particular excerpt is in reference to the response to Katrina. Although some may find it to be further applicable, that is neither here nor there.
1. Sex, and Drugs, and the Spill. Paul Krugman. New York Times. 9 May 2010. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/10/opinion/10krugman.html
2. Big Oil’s Good Deal. 11 July 2010. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/12/opinion/12mon1.html.
3. The Case for Blowing Up the Oil Well. Christopher Brownfield. http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2010-06-05/can-explosives-stop-the-oil-spill/ (Christopher Brownfield is a former nuclear submarine officer, an Iraq veteran, and a visiting scholar on nuclear policy at Columbia University).
4. BP, Halliburton Execs Refuse Oil Spill Blame at Hearing. Patricia Murphy. The Capitolist. http://www.politicsdaily.com/2010/05/11/gulf-oil-spill-ceos-refuse-blame-during-senate-hearing/
5. Oil Spill and potential hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico; Live streaming video of oil leak. Tony Pann. 31 May 2010. www.dampfang.com/x-23333-Atlantic-Hurricanes-Examiner~y2010m5d31-Oil-Spill-and-potential-hurricanes-in-the-Gulf-of-Mexico.
6. Bill Clinton: Blow Up the Well. Jon Bershad. 28 June 2010. http://www.mediaite.com/tv/bill-clinton-blow-up-the-well/
7. Halliburton Campaign Donations Spike. http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0610/38047.html
8. Midweek Politics with David Pakman. 3 July 2010. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wOy80pFYJAM; www.midweekpolitics.com