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Posts Tagged ‘oilspill’

Is there anyone who didn’t see the headline in this morning’s New York Times coming? Clifford Krauss’ and John M. Broder’s story “BP Says Curb on Drilling Would Imperil Oil Spill Payouts” is just another one of those “I told you so moments” in BP’s tragedy of errors. Public Citizen warned early on that the Obama administration’s proposal that would allow BP to use its Gulf of Mexico drilling operations as collateral for its $20 billion victims compensation fund was a terrible idea. For one, it sets up an inherent conflict in interest because it makes the administration a defacto partner in BP’s gulf operations. Public Citizen President Robert Weissman and Tyson Slocum, director of our Energy Program, laid it out in Politico:

BP’s scheme enlists the government as a virtual partner in its Gulf oil and gas production, and the company uses that partnership to shield itself from punishment. It is likely to give the government a financial incentive to become an even bigger booster of offshore oil drilling in the Gulf — the Minerals Management Service’s fatal flaw at the time of the BP disaster. BP seems to have structured the fund largely to limit its liability in civil cases and escape accountability.

And now, BP provides us case in point by saying in the NYT article that (more…)

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The federal government and BP would have us believe that most of the oil that spewed into the Gulf of Mexico has dissipated. The Deepwater Horizon Incident Joint Information Center (a collaboration between BP and the Obama administration) issued a recent report that says only 25 percent of the oil that poured into the Gulf remains. The other 75 percent?  Poof! Vanished.  As Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food and Water Watch, points out in truthout, this is a pretty ridiculous assertion.

Researchers with Georgia Sea Grant and the University of Georgia released a report Wednesday that estimates that 80 percent of the oil is still in the Gulf. Hauter writes:

This independent analysis of the regulators’ claims raises some important questions about the Joint Information Center’s report. Is BP’s influence at play in presenting the findings in a more positive light? Was the report an attempt at crisis communications that simply backfired?

It’s  just another example of what happens when the government treats BP like a partner, rather than (more…)

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BP has – at least for now – stopped oil from pouring into the Gulf of Mexico.

But stopping the oil is only the start of the work that must be done.

Each day of the crisis has revealed new heartbreaking accounts of people affected by the oil and the extent to which the coastal ecosystem has been devastated.

Citizens have gotten a hard glimpse into the oil industry and the failings in the way the government deals with oil corporations like BP.

Citizens have also taken action to demand BP be held accountable.

Highlights of Public Citizen pressure include thousands of activists pledging to boycott BP, our citizen’s arrest action at BP’s lobbying office in D.C., on-the-ground work in Louisiana, advocating for the removal of a cap on liability for oil damages, calling for an end to BP’s federal contracts, and holding a public forum with BP claims administrator Ken Feinberg.

Public pressure is working! On June 16, President Obama announced that BP would set aside at least $20 billion to pay damages to victims of the oil spill. Both the House and Senate bills introduced in response to the oil disaster include provisions to replace the existing $75 million liability cap for oil damages with an unlimited cap. And BP is reassigning Tony Hayward to – no kidding – Siberia! (Bet that’s not what he meant when he said “I want my life back.”)

We must keep the pressure on to ensure that the summer of oil is followed by the autumn of reform, remediation and recovery.

Allison Fisher is the energy organizer for Public Citizen.

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Slocum

The clock is ticking, but the Senate shouldn’t delay: Senate lawmakers should pass oil spill legislation this week before leaving town for the August recess.

The BP disaster in the Gulf has highlighted not only the high price tag attached to our addiction to oil but also failings in the way the government deals with oil companies. Bills introduced in both the House of Representatives (H.R. 3543) and Senate (S. 3663) would tackle the latter and throw in some green energy provisions as well. Ultimately, the provisions in both bills should be included in a final law.

Both measures would rightly abolish the existing $75 million cap for oil companies’ liability for spills and restructure the agency formerly knows as the Minerals Management Service. The Senate bill would (more…)

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Kenneth Feinberg, administrator of the $20 billion BP disaster victims fund, talks about the challenges he will face in determining who gets paid and how much they will receive. Feinberg, who was at Public Citizen this afternoon to discuss his role as the Obama administration’s executive pay czar, said it’s not a matter of simply taking claims from victims and writing checks.

What if you’re a motel 40 miles from the beach and you say that business is down by a third because of the perception of the spill even though the oil never got to the beach? Is that a valid claim?

Leigh Coleman and Rachelle Younglai at Reuters have more about Feinberg’s task and how his reputation as a “fixer” is going to be put to the test.

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Slocum

We’ve seen it before: BP installs a new CEO and promises big change.

But it doesn’t happen; witness the continuation of BP’s horrific safety record after outgoing CEO Tony Hayward was elevated to the top spot in 2007. Hayward promised to focus “like a leaser beam” on safety. So much for that.

BP’s culture of recklessness runs deep. Cutting corners in the name of efficiency is the company’s MO. As a consequence, we saw the 2005 Texas City refinery explosion that killed 15 workers and came right after a consultant warned about perilous conditions at the refinery, the 2006 Prudhoe Bay pipeline spill and the current Gulf of Mexico disaster. It is clear that BP prioritizes short-term profits at the expense of worker safety and the environment.

Incoming CEO Robert Dudley must initiate a top-to-bottom reconstruction of the company and resist the urge to simply do a PR facelift of the kind favored by Hayward and his predecessor, Lord John Browne. Americans rightly demand corporate responsibility, and Dudley must deliver by fixing a broken BP culture and instituting reforms that prioritize safety and environmental stewardship. Such a commitment must be felt in the ranks of managers and employees – not simply echoed on expensive TV ads.

Just as important, Dudley owes it to the communities in the Gulf and beyond to pledge the full resources of the company to paying what is owed. Dudley must assure families harmed by the ongoing crisis that he will take no steps to shield BP’s assets from exposure to liabilities stemming from the Gulf disaster. If the company is genuine in its claim to wanting to turn the company around, this would be a good start.

Tyson Slocum is the director of Public Citizen’s Energy Program.

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Public Citizen President Robert Weissman (above) and Tyson Slocum (below), director of Public Citizen’s Energy Program, spoke at today’s “citizen’s arrest” at BP’s Washington, D.C., headquarters.

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