No, we are not referring to the many other oil spills and cleanup operations that have happened in recent memory. We are talking about the dance the BP Corporation is leading to get around being blamed for the spill, and the righteous indignation Congress people are getting themselves lathered up to look like they will make BP suffer the consequences. Just as they did a week ago when as Congress people needed to look like they were going to do something about their contributors’ greed. Did we mention it is a midterm election year?
The HuffingtonPost.com published a report last week about how Congress is pressing BP to testify before hearings, à la Goldman Sachs: “Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Energy Secretary Ken Salazar announced a joint investigation into the incident — with the power to issue subpoenas, hold public hearings and call witnesses — which will probe possible criminal or civil violations by the operators of the rig.” These investigations, though necessary, come after the environmental and economic disaster of the explosion and ongoing oil leak. The tougher question will be whether Congress takes into account its willingness to restrengthen what little regulation the industry had over the last decade or so. But to do so would not be helpful politically, so likely they will bark loudly and bite not at all. Did we mention it is a midterm election year?
OLBERMANN: But talking about hypocrisy, in a time when an administration has been elected in large part to reestablish regulations that were rolled back across the business board, across the industrial board, B.P. was largely allowed to call the shots on this for the first week. Is that going to change this idea of regulation? Is it going to put some momentum behind all aspects of re-regulation?
WOLFFE: Well, when we get into the investigation part of this, a critical question is going to be: How come B.P. got it wrong? Were they ignorant of the oil that was leaking out of this damaged rig? Or were they obfuscating, hiding some information somehow?
That‘s going to be a really critical area, because all these people who say the federal government should have done more, a lot depends on what kind of the information that we‘re getting in terms of the oil leaking out. That comes down to: can you trust these companies before a disaster and after a disaster? B.P.‘s got a lot of questions to answer here.
And the L.A. Times reported on 3 May that BP accepts responsibility for cleanup, but not for the accident, handing off that responsibility to TransAmerica, who in turn will await an enquiry:
Throughout the weekend, federal officials led by President Obama have stressed that BP will be responsible for the cleanup and for capping the leaking well.
On Monday, Hayward acknowledged that his company would be responsible for the cleanup, expected to cost billions of dollars. But he was careful to contend that the original accident was the fault of offshore drilling contractor Transocean Ltd., which operated the rig that sank.
“We will await all the facts before drawing conclusions, and we will not speculate,” a spokesman for Transocean said.
The original accident and the oil leaks also are being investigated by the federal government.
In the mean time, the effort to cap the leak over the weekend has proved a failure due to ice/slush buildup within the now-famous 100-ton ‘funnel.’ The next step is to try a smaller funnel that might not allow the same kind of buildup. If you are curious about just how much oil is pouring into the Gulf, consider this widget, which can even be adjusted to what BP claims is flowing out or up to what the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) believes is coming from the leaks. A last issue to be raised here today is the damage being done to the Gulf . Many fishermen praise BP for claiming cleanup responsibility, but as oil continues to spill and stemming the tide still seems days away at best, one can not help but wonder when BP will lose interest in paying. Some numbers to remember as we watch each party jockey for a PR pole position: 1.2 billion pounds of fresh seafood comes out of the Gulf each year. The cost to install the shutoff mechanism that could have stemmed the flow of oil at the time of explosion is about $500,000. BP’s profits in the first quarter of 2010, $6.07 Billion. BP’s contributions to campaign funds and lobbyists in 2009 ran well over $18 million.
Did we mention it is a midterm election year?