When I think of an oil “spill” I think of the time I accidentally splashed olive oil on my counter while whipping up Caesar dressing. Or the time my car left a spot on my garage floor. Spill conjures up these small mishaps that are easily cleaned with a Handi Wipe paper towel.
Spill doesn’t sound too bad and yet we continue to call this mess in the Gulf a spill. This is not a spill; this is a catastrophe of unheard of proportions. This is so detrimental that the effects and impact are not going to be fully known for years to come. So detrimental that BP still does not know how much is “spilling” into our oceans. And, apparently, so detrimental that BP has no idea how to handle the cleanup or plug an oil well this deep in our ocean. Or, perhaps they do but want to preserve the integrity of the well? Hmmmm.
After years of hearing cries of “get the government out of our lives,” we now see the impact of this philosophy. Now, we hear screaming from the Southern Coastal states for government to get back into their lives. As Dick Cheney met secretly with energy leaders and recent past presidents flew US of Oil flags over the White House, the collective is now thinking maybe some regulation is not such a bad thing.
We could have required any company who wanted to drill on our shores to install a simple fail-safe mechanism, at a cost of $500,000 apiece, which would close the well if or when the pipeline exploded, or broke. And, as BP reported, $6 billion, that’s Billion, dollars in profit for the first quarter of 2010, this $500,000 would have been a drop in the oil bucket. Or, we could have required off shore companies to maintain a 24-hour force that would immediately release booms to contain the oil. Or, we could have required the company at fault to bring in supertankers and “vacuum” up the oil as was done in a quiet little spill in the Persian Gulf in the late 90s.
Except, now, the toxic dispersant that has been used pushed the oil below the surface making it much more arduous for super tankers to clean up. And, this dispersant is making people sick. Well, not really. According to BP officials, people are merely getting food poisoning. Food poisoning that causes your hands to burn, head to ache, and lungs to cough chronically.
But as we all have witnessed, none of these back up plans were required. Regulations were bad. Unbridled corporatism was good. And hence, we once again will witness the privatizing of massive profits and the socializing of massive losses.
It was also interesting to see that BP had 760 failed OSHA violations for the recent findings recorded, compared to only one for Exxon and CITGO and eight for Conoco-Phillips. BP has also paid out $373 million over the last five years so that they could avoid prosecution. Fines paid, charges go away.
In addition to the 11 workers killed in the Gulf, 15 workers were killed in Texas after repeated violations in 2005. Furthermore, 97%, yes 97%, of the violations that are doled out by OSHA have had the distinct honor of being presented to BP. And yet we invite them to come on down to “drill baby drill” while racking up more fines for the Texas refinery where they failed to install proper safety features even after rebuilding. Appalling? Disgusting? Nope. Just the way things are.
When Reagan pulled down the solar panels from the White House, which Carter had installed to show solidarity with our Solar Power Rays, and withdrew legislation that was to begin moving us toward a goal of 20% solar by the year 2000 (which, you might have noticed, has come and gone), we knew the pusher and addict had become one with the oil.
Furthering the outcry, England is now asking Obama to back off BP. Slick move. Why do they ask this? Too many Brits will lose pension funds invested in BP stock if the stock continues to dive. Let’s not worry about the 11 dead, the thousands losing livelihoods from the fishing and tourists industries here in the good ole USA, and certainly not worry about the billions we will most likely pay for clean up. We should be more concerned about the stock value of BP.
Perhaps we should rename BP BEIC, the British East India Company, and have our selves an “oil party.” And, we won’t even have to throw the oil overboard; it’s already in the water. This will be a slick move for activists as long as they don’t get food poisoning while protesting. And let’s invite the Tea Partiers who should come onboard because they hate socialism and a massive socialist program has already begun for the cleanup.
Mary Pallant is the past President of Valley Democrats United. She ran for Congressional Office in 2008 and is currently active in Democratic Politics in Ventura County.