Posts Tagged ‘BP’
Many have mentioned and I think it bears repeating that British Petroleum, who, along with Haliburtion, bears full responsibility for the stain of death expanding through the Gulf of Mexico, is only liable for $75 million in damages – what you would call a drop in the bucket. They must pay for 100% of the cleanup, which is substantial, but fishermen and tourist companies, those who have seen their lives ruined for BP’s avarice, can collectively get only $75 million in damages.
The economic damage of this oil spill is sure to run in to the billions of dollars, and many commentators estimate the lost capacity resulting from this spill will run into the tens of billions. All of the property destroyed, the fisheries massacred, the empty tour boats and so forth will have to fight for a slice of the $75 million that BP is offering.
This ridiculous situation came after the fallout of the Exxon-Valdez spill of 1990, which occurred off the coast of Alaska and involved orders of magnitude fewer economic victims. Rikki Ott of Reuters explains how Exxon bargained with the Senate then to shoulder all of the cleanup costs if the Senate could guarantee that they could only be sued for $75 million.
Those are the rules which govern our present disaster, and they are, to say it mildly, unfair. As we know, BP lobbied against the regulation that would have required them to buy a valve ($500,000) which would have prevented this disaster (>$5,000,000,000). They ought to be liable for every cent of damage their avarice caused.
Congress is now working on raising BP’s liability cap from $75 million to $10 billion, a proposal I think we could all get behind. I’ll be eagerly waiting to see what becomes of it.
Johann Hari has a typically excellent piece in The Nation detailing the millions of dollars “Environmental Organizations” such as Sierra Club and Greenpeace have accepted from “Big Oil” and “Big Coal” – leaving them in a very clear conflict of interest:
Environmental groups used to be funded largely by their members and wealthy individual supporters. They had only one goal: to prevent environmental destruction. Their funds were small, but they played a crucial role in saving vast tracts of wilderness and in pushing into law strict rules forbidding air and water pollution. But Jay Hair–president of the National Wildlife Federation from 1981 to 1995–was dissatisfied. He identified a huge new source of revenue: the worst polluters.
Hair found that the big oil and gas companies were happy to give money to conservation groups. Yes, they were destroying many of the world’s pristine places. Yes, by the late 1980s it had become clear that they were dramatically destabilizing the climate–the very basis of life itself. But for Hair, that didn’t make them the enemy; he said they sincerely wanted to right their wrongs and pay to preserve the environment. He began to suck millions from them, and in return his organization and others, like The Nature Conservancy (TNC), gave them awards for “environmental stewardship.”
Companies like Shell and British Petroleum (BP) were delighted. They saw it as valuable “reputation insurance”: every time they were criticized for their massive emissions of warming gases, or for being involved in the killing of dissidents who wanted oil funds to go to the local population, or an oil spill that had caused irreparable damage, they wheeled out their shiny green awards, purchased with “charitable” donations, to ward off the prospect of government regulation. At first, this behavior scandalized the environmental community. Hair was vehemently condemned as a sellout and a charlatan. But slowly, the other groups saw themselves shrink while the corporate-fattened groups swelled–so they, too, started to take the checks.
Remember – If you can’t beat ’em, buy ’em!