Saturday, May 8, 2010


British Petroleum's Deepwater Horizon oil rig goes up in flames on 20 April 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico (pic by Reuters)

Dick Cheney responsible for biggest oil spill in history?

The explosion that destroyed BP's Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico on 20 April 2010. killing at least 11, has resulted in what has been described as the worst oil spill in history.

Just to save $500,000 on a safety feature called the acoustic switch, BP is now being held accountable for a massive environmental hazard that might eventually cost more than $14 billion in losses. No cash value can measure the distress to humans and the ecosystem this avoidable oil spill will cause.

This catastrophe graphically illustrates the long-term dangers of shooting for short-term gains in a climate of entrenched corporate and bureaucratic corruption.

America is now suffering the grievous effects of having tolerated George W. Bush as president for eight years and allowing his vice-president, Dick Cheney, free rein as Wheeler-Dealer-in-Chief.

Malaysians, be warned! Endemic environmental ruin and operational inefficiency resulting from 53 years of Umno/BN mismanagement will most certainly devastate our fragile economy and burden our descendants with a very hefty national debt.

Read the hard-hitting article below by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr and you will reassess your support for the corrupt status quo!

Sex, Lies and Oil Spills

Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

A common spin in the right wing coverage of BP's oil spill is a gleeful suggestion that the gulf blowout is Obama's Katrina.

In truth, culpability for the disaster can more accurately be laid at the Bush Administration's doorstep. For eight years, George Bush's presidency infected the oil industry's oversight agency, the Minerals Management Service, with a septic culture of corruption from which it has yet to recover. Oil patch alumnae in the White House encouraged agency personnel to engineer weakened safeguards that directly contributed to the gulf catastrophe.

The absence of an acoustical regulator - a remotely triggered dead man's switch that might have closed off BP's gushing pipe at its sea floor wellhead when the manual switch failed (the fire and explosion on the drilling platform may have prevented the dying workers from pushing the button) - was directly attributable to industry pandering by the Bush team.

Acoustic switches are required by law for all offshore rigs off Brazil and in Norway's North Sea operations. BP uses the devise voluntarily in Britain's North Sea and elsewhere in the world as do other big players like Holland's Shell and France's Total.

In 2000, the Minerals Management Service while weighing a comprehensive rulemaking for drilling safety, deemed the acoustic mechanism "essential" and proposed to mandate the mechanism on all gulf rigs. Then, between January and March of 2001, incoming Vice President Dick Cheney conducted secret meetings with over 100 oil industry officials allowing them to draft a wish list of industry demands to be implemented by the oil friendly administration. Cheney also used that time to re-staff the Minerals Management Service with oil industry toadies including a cabal of his Wyoming carbon cronies.

In 2003, newly reconstituted Minerals Management Service genuflected to the oil cartel by recommending the removal of the proposed requirement for acoustic switches. The Minerals Management Service's 2003 study concluded that "acoustic systems are not recommended because they tend to be very costly." The acoustic trigger costs about $500,000. Estimated costs of the oil spill to Gulf Coast residents are now upward of $14 billion to gulf state communities.

Bush's 2005 energy bill officially dropped the requirement for the acoustic switch off devices explaining that the industry's existing practices are "failsafe." Bending over for Big Oil became the ideological posture of the Bush White House, and, under Cheney's cruel whip, the practice trickled down through the regulatory bureaucracy. The Minerals Management Service - the poster child for "agency capture phenomena" - hopped into bed with the regulated industry - literally.

A 2009 investigation of the Minerals Management Service found that agency officials "frequently consumed alcohol at industry functions, had used cocaine and marijuana and had sexual relationships with oil and gas company representatives." Three reports by the Inspector General describe an open bazaar of payoffs, bribes and kickbacks spiced with scenes of female employees providing sexual favors to industry big wigs who in turn rewarded government workers with illegal contracts.

In one incident reported by the Inspector General, agency employees got so drunk at a Shell sponsored golf event that they could not drive home and had to sleep in hotel rooms paid for by Shell. Pervasive intercourse also characterized their financial relations. Industry lobbyists underwrote lavish parties and showered agency employees with illegal gifts, and lucrative personal contracts and treated them to regular golf, ski, and paintball outings, trips to rock concerts and professional sports events. The Inspector General characterized this orgy of wheeling and dealing as "a culture of ethical failure" that cost taxpayers millions in royalty fees and produced reams of bad science to justify unregulated deep water drilling in the gulf.

[Read the whole sordid story here.]

US government assumes control of clean-up in Gulf of Mexico as £13bn wiped off BP's value