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Posts Tagged ‘British Petroleum’

“We’re Poisoned. We’re Sick.”

Truthout- Tuesday 15 February 2011

by: Dahr Jamail and Erika Blumenfeld, t r u t h o u t | Report

Residents who live along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, all the way from Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana, to well into western Florida, continue to tell me of acute symptoms they attribute to ongoing exposure to toxic chemicals being released from BP’s crude oil and the toxic Corexit dispersants used to sink it.

Shirley Tillman from Pass Christian, Mississippi, and former BP Vessels of Opportunity oil cleanup worker wrote me recently:

“You can’t even go to the store without seeing sick people! You can hear them talking to people and they think they have the flu or a virus. I saw a girl that works at a local store yesterday that had to leave work because she was so sick! Others, throughout the entire store were hacking & coughing. It’s crazy that this has been allowed to happen to all of us!”

Oil continues to wash ashore. That which was already there, usually in the form of tar balls or mats of tar, is being uncovered by the weather.

Four of the fragile barrier islands of Mississippi have had four million pounds of oil removed, thus far. The embattled coastline never gets a break. However, BP cleanup crews, who returned to work the first week of January after an 11-day break, removed another 11,000 pounds of oil from Petit Bois Island Thursday, January 6, and another 3,800 pounds from Horn Island.

“The northerly wind seems to do the uncovering [of the oil],” a cleanup supervisor said. “Southerly winds appear to be covering it up.”

“This is the biggest cover-up in the history of America,” Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser told reporters on a boat trip he took with Coast Guard and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) officials last week.

MORE HERE

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A poet once wrote: “When you’re chewing on life’s gristle, don’t grumble. Give a whistle. And this’ll help things turn out for the best.” This famous Python ditty appears to be the government, BP and media spin on the oil disaster at this point, and it could be the biggest display of wishful thinking, denial and deception in the face of a serious crisis since Chris Matthews and G. Gordon Liddy swooned over President Bush’s crotch bulge aboard the U.S.S. Lincoln when the Iraq war was apparently “over.”

For several weeks now, the traditional media, and especially cable news, has been wondering, “Where’s all the oil?” as if to suggest the biggest water-based oil disaster in history is over and the oil is gone. And while it’s easy to pick on the press, its short attention span and the superficial reporting typical of TV news, it’s only right to underscore who specifically is to blame for downplaying the size and scope of the disaster.

Remember the first time this “where’s the oil?” question was raised? Back on May 16, Brit Hume asked, “Where’s the oil?” on Fox News Sunday. Days later, the oil washed ashore and no one dared repeat the same question. Until now.

Patient zero in the most recent “where’s the oil?” analysis appears to be Thad Allen:

“What we’re trying to figure out is where is all the oil at and what can we do about it,” said US spill response chief Thad Allen.

Coincidentally, my next book is titled: Where Is All The Oil At? (And What Can We Do About It). I’m joking, of course, because we know precisely where the oil is. And there’s very little we can do about it, other than to stop candy-coating the post-kill status of the disaster.

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(The leopards attempt at changing spots)

BP By Any Other Name – The Anglo-Iranian Oil Dispute – 1951

Crooks & Liars- By Gordonskene Friday Jul 30, 2010 7:00pm

When Iran, under Mohammed Mossadegh nationalized Iran’s oil production in March of 1951, it put a crimp in the relations between Iran and Britain, who had enjoyed massive profits from drilling operations going back to 1909 and who, by 1950 had come to rely (as did the U.S.) on Middle East oil for 70% of its consumption (even back then). After a hotly contested dispute, which brought in the League of Nations to re-negotiate in 1933, Iran got slightly more of a percentage and by 1946 had negotiated to get 30% profits to Britain’s 70%.After Mossadegh took over and nationalized Iran’s oil production, Britain quickly attempted to negotiate a 50/50 split, but Mossadegh would have none of it. The dispute between Britain and Iran went on for two years. So on August 22, 1953, with the help of our very own CIA the Mossadegh government was overthrown and The Shah was reinstated. Shortly after, Britain and Iran were negotiating oil.

And shortly after, The Anglo-Iranian Oil Company became British Petroleum. And the rest, as they say, is history.

This clip comes from a CBS newscast of August 21, 1951 when the negotiations had broken down.

AUDIO CLIP HERE

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The president wrapped up his address Tuesday night by asking Americans to pray for the victims — both human and environmental — of the BP oil spill. I thought it was a strange way to end his first Oval Office address during a national emergency insofar as praying makes the situation appear too big for conventional solutions. As though all that remains between us and a sea of oil is the Hail Mary.

This morning it occurred to me that this was the only thing he could really ask Americans to do.

Why? Simply stated, it doesn’t require any effort to silently invoke spirituality while stopped at a traffic signal or while chewing a gluttonous mouthful of Double Down. Actually, I take back that second part. I can’t imagine doing anything other than suffering a massive infarction while eating a Double Down.

Instead of prayer, the president could have asked us all to make sacrifices towards the goal of weaning ourselves off of fossil fuels. Maybe he should have asked for sacrifice. It probably wouldn’t have hurt. But it would have been mostly ignored.

Americans simply don’t do “national sacrifice” anymore. During World War II, Americans were asked to ration everything from sugar to oil to cheese — even shoes. Those days are long gone. Today, we’re asked to go to Disneyland or the beach. Or we’re asked to pray. (It’s difficult to imagine the modern right-wing, for example, accepting the rationing of anything at the behest of the current president when most of them refuse to fill out a U.S. Census form. More on that presently.)

The BP oil spill has been a daily reminder of our toxic relationship with decomposed dinosaurs. On just about every blog and every cable news show, we’ve watched in shock-horror as 75,000,000 gallons of oil spew from the top of the Deepwater Horizon’s blowout preventer. We see it. We cringe. Some of us shout, “Why, oh, why?!” Others curse Tony Hayward and BP. Maybe some of us curse President Obama or former President Bush. A clear majority of Americans are pissed off, and they’re taking it out on everyone except themselves: the ones actually buying the oil.

Once we’re exhausted with blaming and yelling, we climb into our oversized cars, crank up the air conditioner, drive to Burger King and order a ammonia-washed beef sandwich the size of a baby — while mindlessly idling at the drive-thru.

As the president pointed out last night, scientists, experts and politicians alike have been urging us to make the transition to clean energy and away from fossil fuels. In the last ten years alone, we’ve endured the largest terrorist attack on our soil and subsequently fought two wars, all prompted by American intrusions into the Middle East to satisfy our collective petro fix.

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BP is using federal agencies to shield itself from public accountability and is actually disappearing oiled wildlife.

June 12, 2010 |

Marine Photo Bank / Flickr Creative Commons
Photo Credit: Marine Photo Bank / Flickr Creative Commons

Orange Beach, Alabama – While President Obama insists that the federal government is firmly in control of the response to BP’s spill in the Gulf, people in coastal communities where I visited last week in Louisiana and Alabama know an inconvenient truth: BP — not our president — controls the response. In fact, people on the ground say things are out of control in the gulf.

Even worse, as my latest week of adventures illustrate, BP is using federal agencies to shield itself from public accountability.

For example, while flying on a small plane from New Orleans to Orange Beach, the pilot suddenly exclaimed, “Look at that!” The thin red line marking the federal flight restrictions of 3,000 feet over the oiled Gulf region had just jumped to include the coastal barrier islands off Alabama.

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“There’s only one reason for that,” the pilot said. “BP doesn’t want the media taking pictures of oil on the beaches. You should see the oil that’s about six miles off the coast,” he said grimly. We looked down at the wavy orange boom surrounding the islands below us. The pilot shook his head. “There’s no way those booms are going to stop what’s offshore from hitting those beaches.”

BP knows this as well — boom can only deflect oil under the calmest of sea conditions, not barricade it — so they have stepped up their already aggressive effort to control what the public sees.

At the same time I was en route to Orange Beach, Clint Guidry with the Louisiana Shrimp Association and Dean Blanchard, who owns the largest shrimp processor in Louisiana, were in Grand Isle taking Anderson Cooper out in a small boat to see the oiled beaches. The U.S. Coast Guard held up the boat for 20 minutes – an intimidation tactic intended to stop the cameras from recording BP’s damage. Luckily for Cooper and the viewing public, Dean Blanchard is not easily intimidated.

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A few days later, the jig was up with the booms. Oil was making landfall in four states and even BP can’t be everywhere at once. CBS 60 Minutes Australia found entire sections of boom hung up in marsh grasses two feet above the water off Venice. On the same day on the other side of Barataria Bay, Louisiana Bayoukeeper documented pools of oil and oiled pelicans inside the boom – on the supposedly protected landward side – of Queen Bess Island off Grand Isle.

With oil undisputedly hitting the beaches and the number of dead wildlife mounting, BP is switching tactics. In Orange Beach, people told me BP wouldn’t let them collect carcasses. Instead, the company was raking up carcasses of oiled seabirds. “The heads separate from the bodies,” one upset resident told me. “There’s no way those birds are going to be autopsied. BP is destroying evidence!”

The body count of affected wildlife is crucial to prove the harm caused by the spill, and also serves as an invaluable tool to evaluate damages to public property – the dolphins, sea turtles, whales, sea birds, fish, and more, that are owned by the American public. Disappeared body counts means disappeared damages – and disappeared liability for BP. BP should not be collecting carcasses. The job should be given to NOAA, a federal agency, and volunteers, as was done during the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska.

MORE HERE

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We must become the owners, or at any rate the controllers at the source, of at least a proportion of the supply (of oil) which we require….and obtain our oil supply, so far as possible, from sources under British control, or British influence.” (Winston S. Churchill, First Lord of the Admiralty, 1919)

A BP petrol prices sign outside a BP Shop garage in the United Kingdom (prices in UK pence per litre)

From the bedroom window in  my house at the end of a little cul de sac in a large village/small town called Syston on the outskirts of Leicester, England, I can see a row of houses built in neo-Georgian style on the other side of the road, another row of similar styled houses to the right at the end of the cul de sac, a few flags with the cross of St. George, the flag of England (it’s the World Cup), draped from upper story windows, a “Sold” sign, and a “For Sale” sign, and, between the gap in the two rows of houses a disused and dirty BP (or should I say, as President Obama, in this mid-term election year, is wont to do, British Petroleum), sign, lying on its side, its top visible above a garage roof.

Ever since I moved into Syston in the summer of 2001, there have been two petrol-filling stations, one at my end of the village, which was run by Shell when I first moved in, and the other, at the other end, owned by Texaco.  (“Petrol”, btw, is what we Brits call the stuff you Yanks call “gas”, or “gasoline”.) Then Shell sold up and BP took over with their bright, shiny green and yellow logo betokening their much trumpeted commitment to the environment and green issues! (In fact, bp’s environmental record is the worst of all the major oil companies, as this video of an interview of Steve Lendman by James Fetzer shows.) It is the back end of this garage that I can see from my bedroom window.

Of the two petrol-filling stations, Texaco’s was usually the slightly cheaper.

Then the Texaco-filling station was closed down and into their place, yes, you’ve guessed it, came another BP station with the same bright, shiny green and yellow logo betokening their…etc. etc., etc,.

The heart-rending events in the Gulf of Mexico are, naturally, concentrating minds here in the UK, home, as Obama continually likes to remind us, of BP, and my cogitations on the subject revolve around three main issues.

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BP’s Long History Of Destroying The World

Huff Post- Ryan Grim

First Posted: 06- 8-10 12:45 PM   |   Updated: 06- 8-10 02:48 PM

The oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico is a final onslaught launched from the grave of colonialism, perpetrated by a corporation that can compete with Goldman Sachs when it comes to creating misery around the world.

One of the most pivotal moments in world and United States history came in 1953 when the CIA and British intelligence forces staged a coup in Iran, overthrowing the democratically elected Mohammed Mossadegh, a national Iranian hero who was named Time‘s Man of the Year in 1952. That coup led directly to the Iranian revolution of 1979, which launched an era of Middle East anti-Americanism whose repercussions have since been felt in deadly ways.

Mossadegh earned the adoration of his people and the scorn of Britain for nationalizing the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, which controlled Iran’s oil reserves, shared little of the revenue and kept its workers in slave-like conditions. Anglo-Iranian became British Petroleum.

BP’s role in Iran’s descent into tyranny is no trivial historical coincidence. To this day, it is not difficult to find an Iranian living in America who refuses to buy gas from BP.

There was one primary purpose of the coup that overthrew Mossadegh and installed the Shah: To reclaim BP’s domination of Iranian oil.

Mossadegh’s government had attempted to negotiate a resolution, but BP’s executives flatly refused any compromise. BP’s stubbornness led to the most extreme policy move — full nationalization. Their failure to negotiate led Dean Acheson to coin what has become an oft-repeated analysis applied to varieties of bad actors: “Never had so few lost so much so stupidly and so fast.”

War — or, in this case, a coup — is political negotiation by another means. And BP’s failure in the first round of negotiations led directly to the more violent second round. How history would have unfolded had Iran’s liberal democracy been allowed to flourish can never be known. Policy makers at the time worried that the Soviet Union may have taken it over, though Stalin died shortly after the coup and the nation’s foreign policy turned away from imperialism. Indeed, its subsequent invasion of Afghanistan was launched largely in response to the Iranian revolution. In other words, a Soviet invasion of Iran was unlikely. Would a democratic Iran have been a bulwark against Middle Eastern extremism? Most likely. Would it have been an ally of Turkey and Israel? A real possibility. Would it have gone to war against Iraq? It’s doubtful. (Iraq invaded Iran in 1980, shortly after the revolution, worried about having a Shia theocracy on its border, given its own majority Shia population living in the south atop its own vast resources.)

MORE HERE

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Exxon Valdez: How That Disaster Destroyed The Economy 20 Years Later

Huff Post- Jason Linkins

First Posted: 06- 8-10 05:55 PM   |   Updated: 06- 8-10 09:36 PM

Hopefully, by now, you’ve already read the oil spill apocalypse pieces penned by our own Ryan Grim — who documented “BP’s Long History Of Destroying The World” — and Sam Stein, who got the following diagnosis from a top lawyer in Exxon Valdez litigation: “[I]f you were affected in Louisiana, to use a legal term, you are just f–ked”.

Well, here’s something else depressing that you can add to your oil spill woes. The Exxon Valdez disaster, which occurred on March 24, 1989, played a major role in the collapse of the economy some 19 years later. See, as Stein documented, after lengthy litigation, Exxon managed to get the amount of punitive compensatory damages reduced from the hoped-for $5 billion to a paltry $500 million. But, back when Exxon had reason to imagine it might actually have to part with the $5 billion, the oil giant needed to find a way to cover its hindquarters. Exxon found a savior in the form of J.P. Morgan & Co., who extended the beleaguered company a line of credit in the amount of $4.8 billion.

Of course, that put J.P. Morgan on the hook for any potential judgment against Exxon. So the bank went looking for a way to mitigate that risk. Its solution made history, which you can read about in a June 2009 piece from the New Yorker‘s John Lancaster, entitled “Outsmarted.” Here’s the relevant portion:

MORE HERE

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(H/T to Driftglass.)

Halliburton Pours Money Into Campaigns Of Congress Members Who Will Investigate Oil Spill. Gee, I Wonder Why.

Crooks and Liars- By Susie Madrak Thursday Jun 03, 2010 1:30pm

Just when you think Halliburton couldn’t be any more blatant, and Congress members couldn’t be any more corruptible, it gets worse. No, we don’t need publicly funded campaigns! Nope:

As Congress investigated its role in the doomed Deep Horizon oil rig, Halliburton donated $17,000 to candidates running for federal office, giving money to several lawmakers on committees that have launched inquiries into the massive spill.

Gee, I wonder why. Do you suppose they simply want them to let them know there’ll be no hard feelings if they should find Halliburton at fault in some way? I’m sure it’s something like that.

The Texas-based oil giant’s political action committee made 14 contributions during the month of May, according to a federal campaign report filed Wednesday — 13 to Republicans and one to a Democrat. It was the busiest donation month for Halliburton’s PAC since September 2008.

Of the 10 current members of Congress who got money from Halliburton in May, seven are on committees with oversight of the oil spill and its aftermath.

They just want them to know they’re behind them 100% as they do their jobs!

Halliburton’s political contributions in May are the highest they’ve been since September 2009, when the PAC also gave $17,000 in donations. In fact, the last time the company gave more than $17,000 in one month was when it donated $25,000 during the heat of the presidential campaign in September 2008.

I’ve often told people that instead of the netroots funding candidates, I’d rather see all that money go to hiring our own lobbying firm. Because then we could pay them off, too: to be honest.

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I’m sitting here at my desk watching the oil droids hack away at the blowout preventer in preparation for the “cap” portion of the “cut and cap” procedure, which, contrary to what I’m hearing on cable news, is intended to do something other than stopping the flow of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. In fact, this latest solution isn’t a solution for stopping the flow of oil at all. The oil will continue to gush from the well, only now BP will be able to more effectively harvest some of the oil — a more reliable version of what they were doing with the riser insertion tube for the better part of last month.

Good for them. So they can resume drinking their milkshake between now and August when, we hope, the relief well will be completed. At which time, corporate milkshake drinking will carry on via more conventional methods.

And why not? It’s the free market after all. As I watch these robots slice the riser from the blowout preventer and read the news about lakes of oil moving towards the coasts of Florida, I’m wondering who to blame for this. The list is long, but, in part, I blame anyone who bought into the lines: “government is the problem” and “the era of big government is over.” It’s been systematic deregulation and the elevation of free market libertarian laissez-faire capitalism that have wrought this damage and allowed potentially destructive corporations to write their own rules and do as they please.

Does anyone seriously believe that BP has suddenly become a philanthropic venture interested in doing whatever it takes — sparing no expense — to make the Gulf region whole again? It will do the absolute minimum necessary to weasel its way through this crisis. Not a red cent more.

Last week, while the “top kill” procedure was failing, BP continued its effort to fight regulations in Canada mandating relief wells for every offshore rig. Simultaneously, Rayola Dougher, a lobbyist with the American Petroleum Institute laughed off the notion of requiring relief wells here in America.

Dougher said on MSNBC, “That would be — that would really make it unviable [sic]. I couldn’t even imagine such a suggestion.” A relief well costs around $100 million. That would cut into revenues and so — nope.

This is one of many reasons why Robert Reich’s plan makes sense at this point. Temporary receivership. Despite the political peril involved in such an endeavor, the government should take over BP, its manpower and assets, and eliminate the corporate revenue motive from the capping and cleanup process. BP has proved itself incapable of tackling this job with the best interests of Gulf coast livelihoods and the marine environment in mind, and so they ought to lose their privileges to operate in the Gulf of Mexico for a while.

After all, the nature of any corporation is to mitigate losses and increase revenues. Keep the shareholders as happy as possible, spend the least amount of money necessary, hire the best lawyers to avoid paying punitive fines and get back to drilling and selling oil for profit. This is what corporations do.

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