BP is going to take a big PR hit for the oil drilling rig explosion and subsequent oil leak that as of this weekend is impacting coastal areas along Louisiana. This event has a lot of aspects that, unsurprisingly, the corporate media is failing to cover. I will point out early that “clean energy” is called clean for very good reasons.
I’ll start with some breaking news: BP didn’t adequately plan for this contingency. That news isn’t particularly surprising to many observers. Corporations as big as BP count potential disasters such as this just a tiny cost of doing business. Remember, this industry makes billions of dollars in profits every 3 months. Square that away with news that similar operations in northern Europe are required to operate with new technologies that can stop the flow of oil from significant depths. Thanks to lobbying by BP and others, use of such technologies were designated as voluntary in the U.S. A $500,000 piece of technology likely could have prevented this unfolding environmental disaster. BP lobbied against regulations – that’s a major side of this that is getting next to no exposure.
In fact, BP’s relationship with the U.S. government deserves much more scrutiny. BP didn’t notify the government how bad the resulting oil leak was, though they likely knew days before the government figured it out for itself. Imagine for a moment if the Bush Regime were still in office. I doubt the response to this disaster from them would match what President Obama’s team is doing. Cabinet-level involvement from the Bushies? Only to defend BP in their spin room. So after fighting against more common sense regulations (just trust BP, they can take care of everything themselves) and not telling the government pertinent information, BP now wants that same government’s assistance – because they don’t have equipment to deal with the disaster they created. Why should BP, or any other corporation, be required to demonstrate up-to-date safety and clean-up procedures for their activities, after all? They like to project themselves as a responsible corporation that has the U.S. peoples’ and our environment’s best interests in mind. The walk can’t live up to the talk, as we’ve found out.
Additionally, BP fought against common-sense safety rules implementation and auditing on their rigs. In order to make more money sooner, safety shortcuts were taken; auditors were rushed through their inspections; the results were downplayed. Contrast that again with operations in the scary socialist countries of northern Europe. While not free of fraud or corporate influence, operations there are held under tighter scrutiny. More often, the results are different.
Another big difference between the uber-capitalist approach taken by the U.S. and the scary socialist approach in European countries is the presence of union workers on rigs overseas. Union safety officials work with governmental safety inspectors – they have their people’s lives and livelihoods in mind, and not the bottom-line of the corporation. Only workers who are alive and whole can make money, after all.
So spill, baby, spill. It should be considered a national tragedy that something like this occurred. This is the direct, and by folks like myself, expected result of allowing corporations to run government instead of allowing government to take reasonable measures to ensure corporate activities made sense.
Oh, another thing. Do you read news stories of wind farms blowing up, as coal mines do when methane gas is allowed to build up? Do you read news stories of solar farms spilling millions of gallons of flammable fluid that kills wildlife? Of course you don’t. Wind and solar energy is called ‘clean energy’ for good reasons. Coal, oil and natural gas are called ‘dirty energy’ for good reasons. We can push our elected officials to make clean energy a bigger part of our lives. or we can destroy the environment for thousands of years and continue to make every effort possible to use all the dirty energy we can.