Inside Opinion

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Tag: BP

April
19th

Lessons not learned from Deepwater Horizon disaster

This editorial will appear in Friday’s print edition.

A follow-up progress report by the presidential commission that investigated the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill couldn’t be more timely – or distressing.

It came out Tuesday, just days ahead of today’s second anniversary of the catastrophe that killed 11 workers, released almost 5 million gallons of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico, and created economic havoc for coastal fishing and tourism industries from Louisiana to Florida.

The report has little good news – especially for the families and loved ones of the dead men and for anyone who works on offshore oil rigs. The lessons of the Deepwater Horizon seem to have been quickly forgotten, and not enough steps have been taken that might avert a similar disaster from taking place in the future. Read more »

Jan.
16th

Congress should heed oil panel’s recommendations

This editorial will appear in Monday’s print edition.

The ink hasn’t even dried on the official report about the devastating Gulf of Mexico oil spill, and it’s already being criticized by the oil and gas industry for going too far and by environmentalists for not going far enough.

That’s probably a good sign that the bipartisan president’s commission has taken a balanced approach to its investigation of the April 20 explosion that killed 11 workers and sent more than 4 million barrels of oil into the Gulf, killing sea life, fouling beaches and taking away people’s livelihoods.

Now the question is whether Congress will act on the commission’s recommendations, especially in the House, where there is expected to be a more anti-regulatory climate now that Republicans have taken control.

Since the BP spill has largely dissipated – and other crises have gripped the public’s attention – observers sense a lack of momentum toward making important reforms that could prevent a future, similar disaster. Read more »

Oct.
31st

Halliburton joins the Gulf spill’s rogues gallery

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

Except for the bacteria that have been busily eating the spilled petroleum, it’s hard to find any heroes in this year’s Gulf oil catastrophe.

Successive presidential administrations, for decades, let federal regulators operate in virtual partnership with the offshore oil industry they were supposed to be supervising.

The Obama administration either suppressed or was clueless about the immense quantities of oil being spilled from BP’s Macondo well.

BP itself, of course, bears ultimate responsibility for the disaster that happened on its watch, for the negligence of its contractors and particularly for any corners it cut for the sake of maximizing its profits.

Now it appears that Halliburton, which provided the cement slurry was supposed to seal the newly drilled well last April, bears more responsibility for the spill than it seemed at first.
Read more »

June
23rd

Obama’s predicament: Mr. Furious vs. the spill

This editorial appears in today’s print edition.

So federal Judge Martin Feldman has overturned Barack Obama’s six-month moratorium on deepwater oil-drilling because it’s probably “arbitrary and capricious.” What does the good judge want – Spock-like logic at a time like this?

Pity the president. His job is to be In Charge, or at least look like it. But nothing except wild geologic pressure is in charge of the petroleum blasting out of that snakebit BP wellhead at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico. That leaves the people who are supposedly running the show posturing like opera stars, doing everything possible to redirect public anger at someone else, anyone else.

Obama’s moratorium wouldn’t do a thing about the BP leak, needless to say, and it lumps the safest oil operations in with the riskiest, but it had a presidential feel to it that was kind of comforting.

The president’s other options amount to: touring the Gulf coast and showing sympathy for the spill’s victims; flying back to the Gulf coast and showing some more sympathy for them; standing in front of a camera and sounding angry at BP; standing in front of a camera and sounding really angry at BP. That’s not a big hand of cards; meanwhile the estimates of bubbling crude double or triple by the week.

Obama’s initial response to the April 20 disaster was characteristic of his cool-headed, professorial temperament, and the Americans who talk to pollsters didn’t like that, not at all. So the president had to dredge up some anger.

Since Obama doesn’t really do anger, he keeps fumbling his lines. His “whose ass to kick” performance on NBC’s Today Show was widely regarded as over the top. His lackluster prime time speech last week was under the bottom.

His predicament is reminiscent of Ben Stiller’s superhero character, Mr. Furious, in the comedy “Mystery Men.” Faced with bad guys, Mr. Furious’ superpower was to get mad, or madder, or even madder. Mr. Furious didn’t really do anything; he just got mad. Obama can’t do anything about that plume of oil, but he can get mad – or at least give it a good try.
Read more »

June
9th

With no real spill plan, BP wings it in the Gulf

This editorial will appear in Thursday’s print edition.

If BP appears to be devising its response to the Gulf of Mexico spill on the fly, there’s good reason: The oil giant never had a real plan to deal with a catastrophe at the site.

The company went through the motions, submitting 634 pages supposedly detailing how it was prepared to handle the worst. But the plans themselves are riddled with errors and omissions.

An analysis by the Associated Press found that they vastly understated the dangers of an uncontrolled leak and overstated the company’s ability to deal with one. Some of the most glaring mistakes:

• BP claimed it could marshal the requisite equipment and resources to remove 20 million gallons of oil from the water each day. It has taken six weeks for the company to mop up even a fraction of that amount.

Read more »

June
1st

Will Obama wind up owning the Gulf oil spill?

This editorial will appear in Wednesday’s print edition.

The gusher of petroleum at BP’s wellhead in the Gulf of Mexico has already won the trophy for the worst oil spill in the country’s history. But it may just be getting warmed up.

Now that “top kill” – BP’s last-ditch attempt to turn off the spigot – has failed, prospects for a fix anytime soon look dim. The company hopes to begin capturing the rising oil this week by lowering a containment dome over the ruptured pipeline, but it’s hard to put much faith in the effort after everything else has failed.

Relief wells, which should reach the shaft by August, are supposed to be the surefire solution. Let’s hope. In the meantime, the catastrophic blowout threatens to turn the Gulf of Mexico into another Black Sea.

Between now and then, we’ll witness an unprecedented political science experiment.

Read more »

May
16th

Offshore oil industry faces a hard new world

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

Think Three Mile Island. Think the Titanic. Think the Challenger and Columbia space shuttles. The spill in the Gulf of Mexico is a game-changer on the same order.

For the offshore petroleum industry, there’s actually a kernel of hope in those comparisons. Passenger ships keep on plying the oceans, nuclear plants still produce much of the country’s power, and the United States kept on launching shuttles long after the Columbia burned on re-entry.

This country’s abject dependence on fossil fuels guarantees that offshore rigs will continue to pump crude from the ocean floor despite the April 20 explosion that killed 11 workers and left a huge expanse of petroleum spreading across the Gulf. The hard reality is that better energy technologies aren’t yet abundant or cheap enough to replace oil in the near future.

But for the petroleum industry, there’s no going back to the way things were.

The above-mentioned disasters all changed the paradigms. After Three Mile Island, the nuclear industry lost momentum for decades. After the Titanic, no one put blind faith in steel hulls. After the Columbia was lost, it was clear that space travel was still very dangerous and would likely stay that way.
Read more »

May
5th

Whitman’s BP connection

A caller made a good point about the op-ed we ran today by Christine Todd Whitman in which she argues that the BP oil rig disaster “shouldn’t permanently halt offshore exploration for oil.”

The op-ed noted that Whitman is the former governor of New Jersey, former head of the Environmental Protection Agency, president of the Whitman Strategy Group and co-chair of the Republican Leadership Council.

But it left out what the caller thought was an important factoid: that Whitman serves on BP America Inc.’s external advisory board. According to an April 30 article in Newsweek, BP pays

Read more »