Random Thoughts about the Gulf Spill

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!

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5 responses to “Random Thoughts about the Gulf Spill

  1. First, I agree with a lot of what you have to say. Yes, BP has put profits ahead of safety, which is a corporate-cultural matter. Indeed, that is what the Congressional hearings should have been about yesterday, not grilling Hayward for decisions in which he (as CEO) never have have been involved.

    As to a “shakedown,” stop listening to Rush Limbaugh, the first to take this absurd position and the one who suckered Joe Burton into making a fool of himself. There was no shakedown. Let me give you a simple example. Let’s say a hurricane comes through town, and blows off your roof. Do you think the insurance company waits for you to sue before it recognizes its liability and pays for the damage? Of course not. In fact, they will give you temporary living expenses right up front, long before any final assessment as to how much you are owed is resolved. The same situation exists here, with BP. They know that by LAW they are liable for the costs of the spill. It is now only a question as to how much, but even they recognize it will be more than $20b. What our President asked them to do is no different from what you expect of your insurance company – pay a part now to cover your immediate needs. Shake down? No. Good leadership in making this happen now? Yes.

    As to the Jones Act, please show me where the President has the legal authority to ignore its requirements? Then spend some time reading what Admiral Allen said about that assistance. The simple fact of the matter is that it would not have been helpful, even if allowed. This comes from the man on the scene who knows what can and cannot be accomplished, not BP or some talking head on FOX who wants to politicize this situation to score anti-Obama ratings points. The same holds true for the misconception that building sand berms in LA would solve the problem (fact is would make it worse).

    As for Obama carrying on his duties and life while the spill is managed, that’s a cheap shot at best. Recall the famous quote from our last President, shortly after taking us to war, “Now watch this drive, fellas…”

    And finally, Bob, please – I beg of you – stop trashing our government. It is that same government, made up of real Americans just like you and me, that provides us with clean water, clean air, safe food, safe highways, and a million other things we take for granted everyday. To say that government can do nothing right is to ignore the roads you drive on (National Highway Administration), the safety of the medicines you take (FDA), the space program (NASA), and hundreds of other aspects of what makes America great that we never have to think about because of those who are doing so for us. And as to our ability to fight a war, I need only remind you of who, more than anyone, believed that by Constitution our military should always be controlled by our civilian government, not the other way around. His name was General George Washington.

    Don’t let the Limbaughs, Hanitys, Becks and their Ilk do your thinking. It only drags down the quality of your arguments.

  2. Further to my post, above, I have down some additional research and have learned that in certain limited circumstances the Jones Act can be waived. This does not, however, change the fact that the assistance offered was declined for operational reasons, not “kowtowing” to the unions. The only reason a union would care in any situation about such a waiver would be if the waiver took work away from the represented workers. That is clearly not the case, here. In fact, the unions want this spill cleaned as fast as anyone, given their workers are as affected as anyone else, e.g., unionized hotel staff, resort staff, and even oil platform workers.

    Once again, FOX et al have made political (with no real basis for doing so) a decision made by the experts on site. And don’t you think BP would have been screaming quite publicly had they been prevented from utilizing available, real options to clean up the spill? Interesting how the only ones who are are the political talking heads with a completely different agenda.

  3. Sword….many times the government does good things. But, without going into all the reasons, at this point in America’s history, the country is very divided. We probably disagree on the reasons, but the fact remains. This administration has done little to close the division…and I doubt they will as long as Obama and his cronies maintain their left of center position. BTW, I spend a lot of time listening to MSNBC’s libs and I find them to be quite dissatisfied with the chosen one, too!

  4. Obama is POTUS. His job is to act in the best interest of all citizens. Unfortunately the unions are among his most critical constituents. There was no way he was going to allow foreign ships to operate in American waters outside the restrictions of the Jones Act regardless of the consequences.

    I’ve heard Thad Allen’s claims that the failure to grant a Jones Act waiver has not inhibited the feeble governmental response to the BP oil spill. I never heard Allen make such pronouncements when he was up to his booty in Katrina triggered alligators in New Orleans. Why? Bush issued the executive order to waive the Jones Act instinctively. Good managers do that sort of thing.

    Politicians seek someone to blame or sue. They apparently also look for people to play golf with, party, and/or willing to bash their country (Calderon and McCartney come to mind).

    The office of POTUS is no place for OJT. Stump Woman once said that. For once, I agree with her.

  5. Freddy….Could not agree more! Well stated! Obama is no manager!! Wonder when we will blame Bush for this mess.

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