BP Gambled on Shortcuts: Profit First, Safety Last – In a letter to BP CEO Tony Hayward, Reps. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., and Bart Stupak, D-Mich., noted at least five questionable decisions BP made in the days leading up to the explosion. “The common feature of these five decisions is that they posed a trade-off between cost and well safety,” said Waxman and Stupak.
“Time after time, it appears that BP made decisions that increased the risk of a blowout to save the company time or expense,” the lawmakers wrote in the 14-page letter to Hayward. “If this is what happened, BP’s carelessness and complacency have inflicted a heavy toll on the Gulf, its inhabitants, and the workers on the rig.”
As an example of shortcuts, BP apparently rejected advice of a subcontractor in preparing for a cementing job to close up the well. BP rejected the recommendation to use 21 “centralizers” to make sure the casing ran down the center of the well bore. Instead, BP used only six centralizers.
In an e-mail on April 16, a BP official involved in the decision explained: “It will take 10 hours to install them. I do not like this.” Later that day, another official recognized the risks of proceeding with insufficient centralizers but commented: “who cares, it’s done, end of story, will probably be fine.”
BP History: Don’t Worry, People Will Forget About It – In the hours after a 2005 refinery explosion in Texas City, Texas that left 15 people dead, a BP executive suggested a holiday weekend and the national furor over Terry Schiavo’s last days would eclipse the tragedy. With the oil company now battling to save an image tarnished by the worst oil spill in U.S. history, the lawyer who found that e-mail among a mountain of BP documents says nothing appears to have changed.
“Their strategy is the same every time … And it’s always, first, damage control,” Brent Coon told CNN. “And with damage control, they accentuate the positive, downplay the negative, tell everybody they’re sorry, they’re gonna fix it, they’re gonna do better, and not to worry.”
Alberta, Canada Getting Messed Up by Oil Exploration Like the Gulf of Mexico – We thought that since you were feeling absolutely dejected watching BP’s underwater gusher spoiling the ecology and economy of the Gulf of Mexico, well, we would try to cheer you up by reminding you how the otherwise environmentally conscious Canadians are degrading their own natural splendor and national soul with oil spillage and seepage on purpose. Bitumen — A.K.A. tar sand — is barely oil. It’s oil-soaked dirt, but in a world that is constantly scraping the bottom of the fossil fuel barrel, tar sand is oil enough to warrant a mad frenzy to extract. And that’s exactly what is happening in the Canadian northwest.
Northern Alberta is rich — very rich — in bitumen. Fort McMurray is the small town at the epicenter of a boom in tar sand extraction, and it’s a messy, ecologically unsound adventure.
Traditionally, the only way to get oil from the dirt has been to cook it. So, every day, massive excavators rip apart the Boreal forest (also known as the lungs of Canada) to get at the soggy oil sand below, and then millions of gallons of pristine Athabascan water are intentionally spoiled in order to boil the oil out of the dirt (or is it the dirt out of the oil?). It’s a very messy, destructive process, which has contaminated rivers and lakes for miles in every direction.
National Rifle Association Get Exemption From Campaign Finance Law – Democrats on Monday touted a major breakthrough in campaign finance reform legislation that could drastically alter the shape and course of the 2010 elections. But in the process of securing the necessary concessions, the party confirmed the widespread assumption that special interests can literally write legislation if they have enough clout.
Facing the distinct possibility that months of collaboration on the DISCLOSE Act would fail, House Democrats granted the National Rifle Association a nearly exclusive exemption from the stringent new standards that they were applying for campaign finance disclosure. Almost all other companies and organizations would be required under the bill to include identification on the ads they sponsor and to provide shareholders with information on those political expenditures. According to House Democrats, the Humane Society and the AARP would qualify for the exemption as well. But other major, politically active institutions like the AFL-CIO, the Chamber of Commerce, and MoveOn.org would not.
A leadership aide told the Huffington Post that there are anywhere between 40-50 Democrats in the House who will refuse to buck the gun lobby on legislation it cares about. Another aide said there are roughly 260 members of the entire House (Republicans and Democrats alike) who will back the NRA’s interests if called upon.
Wealth And Inequality In America: If You Aren’t in the Top 1%, Then You’re Getting a Bum Deal – The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. It’s more true now than at any time since the Gilded Age. Normalized to 1979, the top 1% have seen their share of America’s income more than double. The bottom 90% have seen their portion shrink. 90% of Americans should be very upset.