Wednesday, May 5, 2010

For Whom the Rig Blows

Almost two weeks ago (April 21, 2010) the Transocean oil rig, Deepwater Horizon exploded killing 11 workers and sinking the rig into the ocean. This rig was leased by British Petroleum (BP), the fourth largest oil company in the world. The oil rig has been leaking 5,000 barrels a day.

An enormous oil slick is now heading toward the shorelines of Louisiana, Mississippi and Florida and is killing birds, turtles and a variety of other wildlife in it's wake.

Who's to blame for this disaster and the tragic death of 11 workers? Is it BP which is known for other disasters such as, the Texas City refinery explosion and the Cherry Point explosion. BP also has one of the worst rates of human death of any oil company. Is it Transocean which has had it's own troubles with accidents? Just after the accident Transocean CEO, Steven L. Newman released the following statement:

"As the nation and everyone in the Transocean family mourns the tragic loss of these people, our deepest sympathies are with their families and friends today," said Mr. Newman. "Transocean is doing everything we can to meet their needs during this difficult time, and our family response team members are in close contact to provide all necessary support. I would once again like to express our gratitude to the U.S. Coast Guard, BP and everyone involved for their exhaustive search and rescue efforts, despite this very sad outcome."

Obviously the statement was crafted by a lawyer in conjunction with some public relations person. How many times have we seen this exact statement from other companies? Notice nowhere does Mr. Newman take any responsibility for the tragic (not difficult) accident, nor does Transocean say exactly what they're going to do for the families. Furthermore, Mr. Newman does not even express regret for the disaster, only mourns for the family. Are those crocodile tears I see?

No matter how apathetic or greedy these corporations are, I suggest that most of the blame neither rests upon BP or Transocean, but with "Drill Baby Drill". It's America's insatiable appetite for gasoline. We encourage companies to drill in deeper waters and in delicate environment. We give money to countries that promote terrorism and kill our soldiers with sophisticated, armor piercing explosives in Iraq and Afghanistan. As the cartoon character, POGO once said, "We've found the enemy and he is us."


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