Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Three Ring Blame Game

Even if events are predictable, it doesn't make them any less irritating when they actually happen. Take, for example, the farce in three acts played out in the hearings before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. There for a grilling before the senators were the CEOs of the three companies who have visited the fragile planet with what is fast becoming a truly terrible environmental catastrophe. That would be BP, the company that leased the oil rig from Transocean, and our old friend Halliburton, which was responsible for encasing the well pipe in cement and plugging it in anticipation of future production.Naturally, people were trying to find out what happened and who was responsible. It will come as absolutely no surprise to you to learn that according to the bosses, BP is not responsible. Transocean is not responsible. And Halliburton. Hey, they were just a subcontractor. All of these guys are pointing fingers at the other guys.

And you won't be surprised to learn that the roots of this disaster can be found in the energy company lapdogs of the Bush administration. The oversight agency of the government, the Minerals Management Service, was riddled with corruption during the Bush years, as this piece by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. makes clear.
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.
There is only one thing good that can come out of this disaster: that offshore oil drilling will be set back for years. Years, I say. Maybe long enough to ensure we don't drill anymore of these things.

Don't hold your breath waiting for any real justice to transpire. As in, the guilty being punished or being made to pay through their frigging noses for destroying the livelihoods of thousands of people and besmirching the Gulf coast with massive pollution for the next 40 or 50 years. Justice just doesn't happen anymore, no matter who controls the White House.
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