First, let’s recognize that BP is responsible for the largest oil spill disaster ever to happen in the United States. The evidence is mounting that their highest corporate priority is not safety. Their record in recent years is abysmal. The Texas City explosion and the pipeline incident in Alaska, when coupled with the deep-water Horizon catastrophe, demonstrate how inferior their safety record is compared to American owned & operated multi-national energy corporations. Short-cuts, failed inspections, and ample warning notices from those working on the rig prove that BP’s highest priority was to bring the well on stream as cheaply & quickly as possible. Their failures will probably cost this company more than $100 billion over the 10-15 years; and their reputation will be forever sullied. Furthermore, their executives have made so many public relations faux pas, they show an amazing lack of understanding of the totality of the disaster.
Having said that, it is clear that no entity has a greater interest in stopping this leak than BP. And, they have much more expertise and technical resources to bring to bear than does the federal government. When I hear politicians, private citizens, and the media state that the government should push BP aside and “take over” the efforts to stop the leak and remediate the environment, I am aghast at the naivete of those people. The federal government cannot manage anything efficiently or effectively. Perhaps, the Defense Department could run a winning war if they are allowed to do so by the president and Congress….but, even the DOD is handicapped by bureaucracy as evidenced by way they have been forced to manage the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is hard to win a fight when one arm is tied behind your back!
Back to the topic, BP should have set up a fund to handle legitimate claims expeditiously for those immediately impacted by the spill. But, I would have objected to being bullied into creating a $20 billion “shakedown” fund that will be managed by a Washington bureaucrat! I also would have never agreed to a $100 million fund to be dished out to workers affected by the Obama enforced 6 month moratorium on deep-water drilling. It would not surprise me if Obama asked for billions to offset the higher cost of seafood through the country because some of the fishing grounds in the Gulf are shut down….or something equally absurd! And, BP should be reminding Congress that they own only 65% of the well. Anadarko owns 25%, the rig belonged to Transocean (a Swiss company), and Halliburton was a contractor on the project. BP should be asking the Obama administration how much these other companies will put into the pot! Of course, the courts will ultimately decide what share these other companies must bear….but they will have to pay. Why not require them to be part of the initial fund!
BP’s suspension of their quarterly dividend is a move they had to make since the near-term financial impact on the company cannot be predicted with any degree of certainty. But, the impact on individual stockholders in America and the UK will be significant. And, the economic survival of BP America is not a certainty.
Meanwhile, the House Energy Panel is using another “show trial” moment for Henry Waxman, Bart the Traitor, and others to pontificate and wax on and on about the deficiencies of BP. And, Obama is throwing everything he can at BP as we approach Day 60, as he overcompensates for his lack of leadership and interest in the early stages of this disaster. He found time to play several rounds of golf, attend 3 concerts, and criticize Arizona’ immigration law until the political heat from the progressive left began to sear his teflon suit. Now, he is trying to “kick ass” and make up ground after he was left at the starting gate. Why did Obama fail to accept the Dutch offer of assistance in cleaning up the oil? Why doesn’t he suspend the Jones Act for vessels used exclusively for the clean-up effort? Obama is still running behind this crisis.
BP, Anadarko, Halliburton, Transocean, et al., should all be held accountable for their respective shares in the cost of this disaster. And, I hope that the federal government has experts from all sources working on how to cap this well. This is not something the professors from Harvard can solve. Practical hands-on experience is needed to stop the leak and remediate the Gulf. Let’s stop the talking and get on with doing the job!