Monday, May 03, 2010

Valve

BP is hard at work. No, not trying to stop the oil, trying to reduce their legal liability.

Dick Cheney et al managed to bully the regulators - if you can call them that - into agreeing to an offshore drilling rig without even the normal safely shut-off mechanism (my emphasis in red: note how the regulators loosened up once Cheney was in power):
"BP, the company that owned the Louisiana oil rig that exploded last week, spent years battling federal regulators over how many layers of safeguards would be needed to prevent a deepwater well from this type of accident.

One area of immediate concern, industry experts said, was the lack of a remote system that would have allowed workers to clamp shut Deepwater Horizon's wellhead so it would not continue to gush oil. The rig is now spilling 210,000 gallons of oil a day into the Gulf of Mexico.

In a letter sent last year to the Department of the Interior, BP objected to what it called "extensive, prescriptive regulations" proposed in new rules to toughen safety standards. "We believe industry's current safety and environmental statistics demonstrate that the voluntary programs…continue to be very successful."

That was one in a series of clashes between the industry and federal regulators that began during the Clinton administration. In 2000, the federal agency that oversaw oil rig safety issued a safety alert that called added layers of backup "an essential component of a deepwater drilling system." The agency said operators were expected to have multiple layers of protection to prevent a spill.

But according to aides to Sen. Bill Nelson, a Florida Democrat who has followed offshore drilling issues for years, the industry aggressively lobbied against an additional layer of protection known as an "acoustic system," saying it was too costly. In a March 2003 report, the agency reversed course, and said that layer of protection was no longer needed.

"There was a big debate under the Bush administration whether or not to require additional oil drilling safeguards but [federal regulators] decided not to require any additional mandatory safeguards, believing the industry would be motivated to do it themselves," Carl Pope, Chairman of the Sierra Club told ABC News."

The debate shouldn't be whether BP or Haliburton continue to exist as corporations. Their assets should be would up to start to pay a tiny, tiny amount of the damage they've caused. The real debate should be how many years back to go to claw back dividends already paid out by these monsters.

It is possible to tap into an oil reservoir so huge that its leak would literally destroy all the world's oceans, and thus life on earth. American 'regulators', to allow some oil executives bigger yachts, were willing to stake all human life to save BP the cost of a valve. Does it make sense to have a world run that way?
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