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OIL SPILL: Will BP be held accountable?

Letter by John Mollan, Anderson Island on May 26, 2010 at 2:55 pm with 42 Comments »
May 27, 2010 9:45 am

Let us imagine what would happen if you or I owned a tugboat or truck and what would happen to us if, due to our negligent maintenance, the diesel fuel in the tanks leaked out and washed into a stream or bay.

I am sure that local, state and federal law enforcement and environmental quality agencies would jump on us with both feet. We would probably have our bank accounts frozen, have liens against our properties and would have a good chance of ending up in jail.

Why hasn’t this happened to the mega-polluter BP? Have liens been filed against BP assets? Have its corporate records been subpoenaed? Are the CEO and other responsible parties facing prison time, or are they just sitting back waiting for their bonuses?

Does BP stand for Big Polluter or Beyond Prosecution?

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Leave a comment Comments → 42
  1. nwcolorist says:

    BP has spent close to $1 billion on the cleanup already, with billions more to follow. It’s market value has decreased by $95 billion. That will make BP get accountable.

  2. Volks253 says:

    They had better pay, until every last bill is taken care of.
    The earned 40 billion in profits last QUARTER, they can afford it.

  3. Some current estimates to clean up the oil spill are around $4 billion, and others are estimating clean-up costs could reach as high as $10 billion. The current cap for economic liability in this country is 75 million. So guess who may get stuck paying the remainder?

    In response to this disaster a bill was introduced by Senator Bill Nelson (D-Fla) raising the liability cap to 10 billion, but it was blocked by Senator Lisa Murkownski (R-Alaska), a big oil ally. Hopefully a bi-partisan bill can be passed, but it may not be a legal option, because in this spill, it would have to be applied retroactively.

  4. hansgruber says:

    Apparently BP has contributed more $ the than the Obama Admin. Day one…right!

  5. JungleBoy says:

    The question that should be asked is, “Will the Obama Administration be held accountable?” It’s been 35 days now since the problem began , and Obama has done nothing – other than utter a few disparaging words about BP. For all you Obama-lovers out there, please prove me wrong. WHAT HAS THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION DONE TO SOLVE THIS CATASTROPHE?

  6. witchiwoman says:

    I wonder if this will come back to bite Obama like Katrina came back to bite Bush?

  7. fatuous says:

    “The question that should be asked is, “Will the Obama Administration be held accountable?””

    What a crock of BS!!!

    “It’s been 35 days now since the problem began , and Obama has done nothing – other than utter a few disparaging words about BP.”

    What is it you want him to do? The oil companies have all the machinery and skills to combat this spill.

    “Apparently BP has contributed more $ the than the Obama Admin. Day one…right!”

    BP has spent over 6 million dollars over the last ten years to influence Congress. Of that amount, 70% went to the Republicans.

    http://www.opensecrets.org/orgs/list.php?order=A

    Also, John McCain received over 2.4 million dollars from the gas and oil industry for his presidential campaign. While Obama received a bit over 898 thousand dollars from gas and oil.

    http://www.opensecrets.org/pres08/select.php?ind=E01

    Both parties are rolling in the dirty money. And the Bush Supreme court gave the green light for even more dirty money.

  8. OIL SPILL: Will Bush be held accountable?

    OH wait. Obama is president.

  9. beerBoy says:

    Ummm…….gotta love the “Free Enterprise” proponents who want to get rid of all government regulations who suddenly blame the government because the corporation slipped through loopholes of government safety regulations and then, by law, the corporation is solely responsible for the clean-up.

  10. LibertyBell says:

    Well John, accountability is a big word, for a small mind.

    Ever watch BP Alaska? What do you do with a drunken sailor, early inn the mourning?

    http://www.juneauempire.com/stories/052610/sta_644797651.shtml

  11. Volks253 says:

    Get Govt. out of our lives!
    Get Govt. out of the way so business can prosper!

    Where is the Govt!?!
    Why hasn’t the Govt. fixed this!?

    Cake and eat it too party, AKA tea party/republican/conservatives.

  12. LibertyBell says:

    Yes Volks253?

    If it was only Tea, that your government drank, instead of Vodka!

    The drunken sailor, Audio Files, Valdez Traffic, and another government drunken sailor, running the U.S. Coast Guard.

    http://www.wholetruth.net/history.htm

  13. Volks253 says:

    The President is doing exactly what he can do, the LAW precludes him from doing much more.
    It’s the LAW enacted by…….the republicans!
    They are also the ones blocking the bill (shocker I know) to lift the cap on damages owed by their benefactors and bosses, big oil.
    Another shocker.

    Even if there was no republican LAW prohibiting the President from getting involved, the Govt simply doesn’t have the equipment or the know how to operate at this depth.
    Turns out, despite their assurances that they do, BP and the entire oil industry doesn’t either.
    We all know the GOP will do and say anything to use this man made disaster for their political gain, they used 9/11 why wouldn’t they use this?
    Trouble is, everything that is wrong with this, has their finger prints all over it.
    I don’t think even they can lie their way out of this one, not that that will stop them of course.

  14. LibertyBell says:

    Republican Law Volks253?

    Like that Bill of Rights, and the 7th?

    In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

    The President is doing all he can?

    Yea, it’s always a little to little, a little to late, (D)runk, or (R)etarded!

  15. LibertyBell says:

    He’s a (D)runk, Volks253!

    “The President is doing exactly what he can do, the LAW precludes him from doing much more.”

    Library of Congress, Card Catalog 75-171214, (c) 1971

    Who Owns America? , by Walter J. Hickel

    Book 1. How to Become and endangered Species
    Chapter 1. A Naked Man

    “…It is not enough to know what is right. The challange is to Act.
    On Jan. 27, 1969, three days after I had been sworn in as America’s thirty eighth Secretary of Interior, I learned that the Union Oil Compantys’s ofshore Platform A in the Santa Barbara Channed, a little more than three miles off a particular attractive beach had “blown out….”

    Chapter 10, “Faithfully Yours, Wally”
    “After I left the Cambodia brefing and watched the President on national television at the White House, I went home. There have been few times in my life when I was so upset…

  16. JungleBoy says:

    Fatuous, you hit the nail on the head when you said, “The oil companies have all the machinery and skills to combat the skill.” Precisely for this reason it was totally irresponsible for the Obama administration to say “we’re going to put the boot on the neck of BP” at a time when the oil still gushed from the wellhead. When a disaster is ongoing, a wise leader works with all parties to first solve the problem. Only later, after the problem is solved, does it make sense to look for culpability. Maybe this whole disaster falls into the category of “never waste a crises.”

    Volks253, as far as the role of government is concerned, most conservatives would agree that government has a role to play in our society. If it didn’t, we would still be commuting to work in horse-draw buggies. In this particular case, BP should be left alone to deal with stopping the flow of oil – but here’s what the Obama administration could have contributed.

    It could have set up a command-center in the gulf area to coordinate communications and response efforts of federal and local governments; it could have removed some of the bureaucratic red-tape that prevented gulf-coast governors from taking actions on their own (such as building barrier reefs to contain the oil); and it could have mandated that BP bring in oil tankers to siphon the oil off the surface of the water. These are just a few ideas, put forward by your buddy James Carville, that the Obama administration could have implemented.

  17. Roncella says:

    President Obama has been very busy raising money for democrats for their coming election runs, playing basketball, playing golf, wining and dining the President of Mexico, even including a fancy dinner and ball for him.

    This oil spill is in its 37th day, with no real action from the Whitehouse to help the folks who stand to lose their businesses, jobs, whole industries.

    Its been almost a full year since the President has had a Whitehouse Press Conference. He’s just too busy.

    The Governor of La. has been begging for devices to block the oil while its a few miles away from the shore, but gets no co-operation from Obama.

    How’s all that hope and change, and yes we can, playing out now for those who voted for Obama ??

  18. fatuous says:

    “The Governor of La. has been begging for devices to block the oil while its a few miles away from the shore, but gets no co-operation from Obama”

    Another crock of BS!

    You have to have the devices in stock the first place. You don’t just wave a magic wand and they appear.

    Secondly, the devices are not very effective in choppy ocean water. So they are of limited value, but they are better then nothing.

    Drilling in the ocean is risky. When a corporation cuts corners to save money, it becomes even more risky, sometimes with catastrophic consequences.

    Let’s hope and pray that the mud cap works.

  19. Volks253 says:

    Jungleboy, the President did as you described, that is the Coast guards roll in the spill and they have been on site since hour one.

    Conservatives need to look at how they present themselves, everyday for the last 16 months all we have heard is “small Govt.” Get Govt off our backs” No more big Govt” blah blah blah, then at every turn they want and expect the Govt. to solve every problem and when it doesn’t, it’s President Obama’s ‘fault’.
    I think they have ODS.
    We know they are hypocrites and for the most out right liars but the last year has been without question the most disgusting display of partisan BS since the Clinton witch hunt.

    Funny how they are silent as church mice and everything is wonderful until a Democrat is in the White House isn’t it?
    All I’m asking is for a tiny bit of rational adult behavior from the right, just prove to me that you can do it.

  20. Volks253 says:

    How is all that ‘spill baby spill’ working for you ron?
    Grow up and get some new talking points.
    YOU are a perfect example of what I am talking about.
    ODS.

  21. LibertyBell says:

    Yes volks, the Coast Guard’s Role?

    spill baby spill?

    March 23, 1989, “Valdez Vessel Traffic,”permission granted to move to the nothrbound bound lane, from the southbound< all you drunk skippers can't keep it in the lane."

    December, 24 2009?
    Valdez Traffic, Tanker Escort Vessel Pathfinder, "were fetched up here hard aground on Bligh Reef and evidently leaking a whole lot of diesel…Could you inform Janet Napalatino, out new (D)runk Group Leader, at no homeland security whatsoever.

    Roger Pathfinder all us (D)ruinks need to hang out togather!

  22. fatuous says:

    “It could have set up a command-center in the gulf area to coordinate communications and response efforts of federal and local governments; it could have removed some of the bureaucratic red-tape that prevented gulf-coast governors from taking actions on their own (such as building barrier reefs to contain the oil); and it could have mandated that BP bring in oil tankers to siphon the oil off the surface of the water. These are just a few ideas, put forward by your buddy James Carville, that the Obama administration could have implemented.”

    It’s all too little, too late, and not very effective. But I guess it make for subject matter for talk radio.

  23. LibertyBell says:

    They have a command center, it’s called the White House!

    Sheen is every (D)runks Wet (D)ream!

    http://www.thenewstribune.com/2009/12/27/1007721/cleanup-crews-empty-tug-of-fuel.html

    How much does it cost to paint the White House Black?

    “Red over Red, the Captain is Dead, his balls are in the riggin”

  24. Roncella says:

    Volks253, Its the Dems. who won’t allow drilling on land so we end up drilling off our coasts and now we have a real mess to deal with, because of the democrats.

    Sarah Palin had it right when she coined the phase ” Drill Baby Drill “.

    We need more oil wells drilled, more Refineries Built, more Nuclear Plants Built, Clean Coal, Natural Gas exploration in order to become energy independent from Countries that want to damage and ruin the American economy.

    At the same time Green energy solutions could be continued to be developed.

  25. beerBoy says:

    nwcolorist – BP’s liabilities need to extend to the financial losses that other businesses have or will incur due to the spill. The current limit is way below what is the reality.

  26. Volks253 says:

    Ron, seriously, get some new talking points. You are as predictale as the tides.
    Have you ever posted anything that wasn’t cut and pasted from beck, rush or the GOP home page?
    Ever?

    Can you prove that any drilling on land has been stopped by anyone? No you can’t and you now you can’t. That makes your statement an outright lie.

    When will you righties learn that slogans don’t equal good policy?
    When will you learn that no matter how many wells we drill or don’t drill it won’t effect our domestic supply? Oil is a commodity, it can be and is bought by anyone, ‘our’ oil can and does go to whomever buys it.
    Drilling more will only enrich your parties boss, big oil.
    Why is that fact so hard for you to understand? Is it because anything over 3 word slogan is too hard to grasp?
    You seriously have ODS, get help.

  27. LuckyCharm says:

    I’d like to know why there has to be any liability cap at all. Anybody care to defend that one?

    As far as what the administration has done, it has extended a moratorium on new offshore drilling, and is breaking up the MMS, whose cozy relationship with the oil industry has been no less than scandalous.

    Blaming environmentalists for protecting our lands and “forcing” drillers offshore is like blaming the homeowner for preventing miscreants from spreading broken glass all over his lawn, “forcing” them to spread it in the street. How many problems could be solved immediately if we just didn’t “need” all this oil? The US currently consumes — and imports — more than twice as much as any other nation on earth, and more per person per year than any other country. Why must we be known as the greediest oil gluttons on the planet, when this resource causes so much harm in its harvesting and use? Meanwhile, we rank third in wind energy installations, 21st in geothermal, and 121st in hydroelectric! Is this really the reputation we wish to foster?

  28. Volks253 says:

    The only way to reduce our dependence on foreign oil is to use less oil.
    Use less oil.
    Thats 3 words, maybe the right can understand it?

  29. Roncella says:

    Volks253, Sorry if you can’t handle the truth, I know it can be painful when you support folks you have to constantly defend because of their poor decisions and lack of knowledge. I guess you’ll have to get use to it for at least another 2 1/2 years.

    Volks253, you just keep on listening and believing in your hero’s like Pelosi, Napolatano, Barney Frank, Barbara Boxer, Michael Moore, Keith Olbermann, Chris Mathews, Rachel Maddow, and in your little world everything will be just great, and repeat after me, Yes We Can, Change, over and over again.

  30. LuckyCharm says:

    It’s not just the miles we put on our cars that contribute to our oil consumption. Petroleum is present in many everyday products. Plastic is a biggie, and doesn’t biodegrade. Fabrics, PVC pipe, pesticides used on crops, electrical insulation, and many other surprising items are made partially or totally from petroleum. We would need to completely reform the way we live and manufacture things in order to break oil’s grip on our lives. It is a systemic problem, and individual actions, while important, can only go so far. That’s why it’s important to support advocacy groups that are trying to change the way America does business — alone, our voices are tiny, but together, they can be heard.

  31. The horizon is 11 or 12 miles out. Why are oil companies forced to go FIFTY miles out to drill for oil? When 13 or less would probably do? Answer: libs don’t want any freedom loving company drilling anywhere at all. They believed that forcing companies 50 miles out and making them pump oil from 5 MILES below the surface was impossible or at least way to expensive to even try. Maybe this is why they never considered what disaster might be caused if something broke. Further, they never considered how much easier it would be resolve this type of situation if oil was drilled closer to shore, or gasp, on land like communist and socialist countries do. In their effort to stop freedom, they enable disasters to the environment, but freedom must be stopped at any cost.

  32. Volks253 says:

    How do those on the right disconnect from reality the way that do?
    Is it lack of IQ?
    Drugs?
    Brainwashing from the media?
    I do not understand how they can take in oxygen and still be so disconnected from reality.

    From the cut and paste talking points that seem to be the only thing that occupies the space between rons ears to the wild incoherent ramblings and disjointed ‘logic’ from italianspring it is something to behold.

  33. LuckyCharm says:

    So, IS believes that BP, which sequestered its workers for up to 48 hours immediately post-spill and tried to force them to sign statements saying they had no knowledge of any warnings on the rig, and which is requiring that clean-up workers do not wear industrial-type respirators because of the PR effect (never mind the severe respiratory and other problems these workers are experiencing, is a “freedom loving” company?

    And he’s really suggesting we should adopt the methods of communist nations?

    Oh my, the lengths to which some people will go….

  34. Volks: Brainwashing from the media is not a factor(wink, wink)—Yesterday Ron said there is no right wing media.

    Lack of regulations and lack of enforcement of them, is the common thread in the recent disasters in this country from Moody’s ratings of collateralized debt obligations, to investment banking and derivatives, and now to the oil spill. Yet the folks touting fewer regulations always conjure up a way to blame dems and libs and their alleged tendency to over-regulate, for each and every disaster.

    It’s ironic that the same folks who tout less government interference, are so boldly hypocritical, that they now criticize Obama for not interfering enough in the spill.

  35. donjames says:

    bB wrote:
    “… the corporation slipped through loopholes of government safety regulations and then, by law, the corporation is solely responsible for the clean-up.”

    And I’m sure you have a copy of that “law” that you could post for us, bB… right? Not likely, since no such “law” exists. In fact, BP will be held responsible – in this case to the fullest extent of the law – for the damages (read cost) occasioned by this disaster.

    Much like any environmental accident, governments (local, state, and federal) have the responsibility to have in place contingencies to deal with any anticipated consequences as a matter of course in executing public safety duties. And the responsible party is liable for reimbursement of all recoverable costs attributable to their liability. To stand by for 35 days and watch a disaster unfold – a disaster caused in large part by approval from (former) Director of Mineral and Mining Services, Liz Birnbaum, of an unusual and risky capping procedure (and likely also approved by her immediate supervisor, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar) – while only lifting the finger of blame, falls far short of what would be reasonably expected of the feds here. Plain and simple, they have dropped the ball. This does not excuse BP, but the federal government has clear responsibility to prevent, and limit the severity of, oil spills – especially oil spills originating in federally controlled waters as is the case here.

    craftsman wrote:
    “The President is doing exactly what he can do, the LAW precludes him from doing much more.
It’s the LAW enacted by…….the republicans! 

    Even if there was no republican LAW prohibiting the President from getting involved, the Govt simply doesn’t have the equipment or the know how to operate at this depth.”

    fatuous wrote:

    “The Governor of La. has been begging for devices to block the oil while its a few miles away from the shore, but gets no co-operation from Obama”
    “Another crock of BS! ”

    Do you guys even bother to pay attention? crafty invents laws to suit a warped perspective. fatuous needs to read what Bobby Jindal actually asked for before popping-off. (Hint: sand berms most definitely would not work in deep water, genius.)

    Unbelievable. The same folks who were all over the Bush administration for its response to the Katrina disaster will now make excuses for the incompetent actions and lack of response by the 0bama administration.

    Hypocrites much?

    And, by the way, 0bama has now admitted ownership of this disaster response in his statement yesterday when he insisted Thursday that his administration, not oil giant BP, was calling the shots in the still-unsuccessful response – a marked change in emphasis from earlier administration assertions that, while the government was overseeing the operation, BP had the expertise and equipment to make the decisions on how to stop the flow.

    “The American people should know that from the moment this disaster began, the federal government has been in charge of the response effort,” Obama said. “I take responsibility. It is my job to make sure that everything is done to shut this down… ”

    God help us.

  36. “the federal government has clear responsibility to prevent, and limit the severity of, oil spills”

    So donjames……is your cry now “regulate, baby, regulate”?

  37. Volks253 says:

    The right has no idea what they want, all they know is what their media controllers tell them they want. And that will change depending on the political wind.
    They have no minds of their own and facts scare them to death.
    Like I asked before,
    How do they disconnect from reality the way that they do?

    The donjames rambling is quite the example.
    Hey don, as your media is so fond of saying, “Read the bill!”

  38. donjames says:

    No, bB, it would be respond, baby, respond to laws which have been on the books since 1990.

    From the Oil Pollution Act of 1990:

    Tasked to the Minerals Management Service (Liz Birnbaum, Director) of the U.S. Department of Interior (Ken Salazar, Secretary)

    Subtitle B—Removal
    SEC. 4201. FEDERAL REMOVAL AUTHORITY.
    (a) * * *
    * * * * * * *
    (c) 1REVISION OF NATIONAL CONTINGENCY PLAN.—Not later than
    one year after the date of the enactment of this Act, the President
    shall revise and republish the National Contingency Plan prepared
    under section 311(c)(2) of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act
    (as in effect immediately before the date of the enactment of this
    Act) to implement the amendments made by this section and section
    4202.
    (33 U.S.C. 1321 note)
    SEC. 4202. NATIONAL PLANNING AND RESPONSE SYSTEM.
    (a) * * *
    (b) IMPLEMENTATION.—
    (1) AREA COMMITTEES AND CONTINGENCY PLANS.—(A) Not
    later than 6 months after the date of the enactment of this Act,
    the President shall designate the areas for which Area Committees
    are established under section 311(j)(4) of the Federal
    Water Pollution Control Act, as amended by this Act. In designating
    such areas, the President shall ensure that all navigable
    waters, adjoining shorelines, and waters of the exclusive
    economic zone are subject to an Area Contingency Plan under
    that section.
    (B) Not later than 18 months after the date of the enactment
    of this Act, each Area Committee established under that section
    shall submit to the President the Area Contingency Plan
    required under that section.
    (C) Not later than 24 months after the date of the enactment
    of this Act, the President shall—
    (i) promptly review each plan;
    (ii) require amendments to any plan that does not meet
    the requirements of section 311(j)(4) of the Federal Water
    Pollution Control Act; and
    (iii) approve each plan that meets the requirements of
    that section.
    (2) NATIONAL RESPONSE UNIT.—Not later than one year after
    the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of the department
    in which the Coast Guard is operating shall establish
    a National Response Unit in accordance with section 311(j)(2)
    of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, as amended by this
    Act.
    (3) COAST GUARD DISTRICT RESPONSE GROUPS.—Not later
    than 1 year after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Sec. 4203 OIL POLLUTION ACT OF 1990 270
    Secretary of the department in which the Coast Guard is operating
    shall establish Coast Guard District Response Groups in
    accordance with section 311(j)(3) of the Federal Water Pollution
    Control Act, as amended by this Act.
    (4) TANK VESSEL AND FACILITY RESPONSE PLANS; TRANSITION
    PROVISION; EFFECTIVE DATE OF PROHIBITION.—(A) Not later
    than 24 months after the date of the enactment of this Act, the
    President shall issue regulations for tank vessel and facility response
    plans under section 311(j)(5) of the Federal Water Pollution
    Control Act, as amended by this Act.
    (B) During the period beginning 30 months after the date of
    the enactment of this paragraph and ending 36 months after
    that date of enactment, a tank vessel or facility for which a response
    plan is required to be prepared under section 311(j)(5)
    of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, as amended by this
    Act, may not handle, store, or transport oil unless the owner
    or operator thereof has submitted such a plan to the President.
    (C) Subparagraph (E) of section 311(j)(5) of the Federal
    Water Pollution Control Act, as amended by this Act, shall
    take effect 36 months after the date of the enactment of this
    Act.
    (33 U.S.C. 1321 note)
    * * * * * * *
    SEC. 4203. COAST GUARD VESSEL DESIGN.
    The Secretary shall ensure that vessels designed and constructed
    to replace Coast Guard buoy tenders are equipped with oil skimming
    systems that are readily available and operable, and that
    complement the primary mission of servicing aids to navigation.

    HTH

  39. LuckyCharm says:

    So, if we the people are supposed to clean up after these MF’s, do we also get to tell them they’re not going to drill in our waters in the first place?

  40. beerBoy says:

    donjames – some could say that the bailout was the government “responding” to a crisis……. a crisis that was created when Congress agreed that the post-Depression banking regulations were no longer needed.

    “Respond” isn’t proactive or preventative – and on this one “responding” is a bit like shutting the gate after the cows have already left the barn.

    Evidence is clear that BP flaunted safety requirements and the MMS was far too cozy with corporate interests to enforce the public’s interests (the decision to break up the agency into 3 separate entities with separate duties is a positive step)

  41. donjames says:

    bB, we have no substantive disagreement here – only that you should understand the government does have an important role to play in protecting public land and waterways as well as private property, from the consequences of any sort of accident or natural disaster. This is not regulation and, in my humble opinion, is one of the base requirements of government.

    There will be plenty of time to assign blame, and we are likely to see equal amounts being distributed to both BP and the 0bama administration. Right now, every effort should be concentrated on stopping the flow, and containing the damage. The administration needs to stop tossing the political football around and send in everything they have. We can argue politics later.

    And your analogy to TARP and the stimulus is a stretch, at best.

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