Who Hijacked Our Country

Monday, June 28, 2010

U.S. Should Terminate All of BP’s Leases NOW

The U.S. government can and should do this, according to two people who would know.

Jeanne Pascal was an attorney for eighteen years with the Environmental Protection Agency. She said:

“I have to conclude that there comes a point in time where we say enough is enough. Because BP has definitely turned into a major serial environmental criminal.”

She mentions three other BP disasters over the past ten years, including a 2006 oil spill in Alaska. The company was prosecuted on felony charges, with some of their personnel facing prison time. But the company pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor, and no individuals were charged.

Jeanne Pascal said: “I think the people involved in what's happened in the Gulf need to spend a good time in jail and think about it.”

Scott West is an EPA special agent in charge of the criminal investigation of the BP oil spill in Alaska. He said:

“The people who are making the decisions, playing fast and loose on that Gulf rig — 'hurry up, we are over time, we are over budget, let's take the shortcut' — if they'd seen some of their peers go to jail for those kinds of decisions, maybe they would have said, you know my bonus this year just isn't worth it.”

In 2005, a BP refinery in Texas City exploded, killing fifteen people, injuring 170 and devastating the entire community. BP received a $50 million fine and three years probation. West said:

“We kept hearing a phrase called 'operate to failure.' The federal investigators down in Houston were hearing the same sort of thing.” In other words, systems and equipment were operated to the point of failure, instead of being maintained. As this article says, that’s like seeing the red “Check Engine” light flashing on your dashboard, and deciding to just keep driving and driving and driving ‘til your car dies.

West said that in the Texas City case, investigators were “finding the exact same patterns of neglecting worker safety and environmental concerns to save a few dollars. That, of course, indicated to us that it was corporate-wide. It wasn't just isolated to a particular operating unit.”

Jeanne Pascal (now retired) specialized in the process of debarment. It’s a complex time-consuming process where a company can ultimately lose their authority to do business with the U.S. government. BP was debarred in 2008 for their Alaska oil spill, but in that case it only meant they couldn’t get any more federal contracts at Prudhoe Bay. She said that because of the Gulf oil spill, the EPA, Interior Department and Department of Defense should consider a more sweeping debarment for BP.

Well, what are we waiting for???

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Anonymous Tim said...

Damn straight, they should do jail time. I used to be a Safety Guy for over 20 years(EHS), I was held responsible for my decisions. Legally I could have went to jail. Example:
If by gross neglect of, or willful violations a life was lost.
So my point is BP willfully disaggregated Safety Rules. They should be Punished.

June 28, 2010 at 4:38 AM  
Anonymous kate said...

Exactly, "what are we waiting for?" Greed has a funny way of getting the powers that be, to look the other way, and make excuses. And it's not just oil drilling. Deep hydraulic fracturing, used to drill for natural gas is ruining parts of PA. Their "frac fluids" are considered proprietary fluids, therefore are NOT subject to full disclosure of their chemical content, even to emergency personnel. Google Marcellus Shale...sickening. (sorry, got off on a tangent)

June 28, 2010 at 6:43 AM  
Blogger Demeur said...

Interesting that you should bring this up. Just received an email from the Chemical Safety Board. They were the ones who investigated the Texas city incedent to the tune of $2.5 million. They have been asked by congress to investigate Deepwater. They are at present gearing up to do just that. There determination from the Texas City incedent was that the company was lacking in process safety. They cut staff overworked those that remained and were using a system that wasn't even designed for what they were doing.
I get the feeling that even the rest of the industry would like to see BP out of business. Not that they're much better.
I can say from personal experience that this was the attitude (anything goes) about six months after Bush took office and will continue until regulatory agencies are revamped and refunded.

June 28, 2010 at 9:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm curious

In this respect is BP any better or any worse, incident wise, then any of the other oil companies?


June 28, 2010 at 10:06 AM  
Anonymous S.W. Anderson said...

Exactly right on all counts. This echoes my post from not long ago, U.S. needs three-strikes law for habitual corporate offenders.

We also need to license top executives and other key personnel in industries that have the power to wreck the economy, people's health, safety and the environment. Those found to be operating without due care and caution, in addition to any civil and criminal penalties that might be imposed, get their license revoked. That would mean they could never hold a position of high authority and responsibility, or maybe any job at all, in the business or industry they were licensed in, or any closely related or similar field.

That would really give these greedy bastards something to think about. We do it with doctors, lawyers and even cosmetologists. Why shouldn't we do it with financial, health insurance and oil executives?

June 28, 2010 at 1:06 PM  
Blogger Beekeepers Apprentice said...

I agree, someone needs to do some jailtime. They can start with that smarmy little CEO they've been trotting out all over the f'ing news.

June 28, 2010 at 4:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you all should read this



June 28, 2010 at 5:52 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Tim: Damn right, any BP personnel convicted of willfully cutting corners -- janitor, CEO, I don't care -- should be fined and jailed. Not just BP; any company that has public safety in its hands, as SW talks about below.

Kate: I've seen a few news stories about that. Very few -- a few blog posts, a few "alternative" news sites. That story definitely needs to get out.

Demeur: I sure hope the Chemical Safety Board will investigate Deepwater. We need to get to the bottom of this.

Erik: BP might actually be sleazier than the other oil companies, and that's saying a lot.

SW: I remember your post about a 3-strikes law. If there's a 3 strikes law for people, then there should be one for corporations, since corporations are people. And I agree that the insurance, financial and oil industries (any industry whose negligence can jeopardize the public) need to be held to the same stringent licensing requirements as doctors and lawyers.

Bee: Tony Hayward being passed around from cell to cell like a peace pipe (my favorite line from Anger Management) -- works for me.

Erik: Well, that was a happy news story. Not a bit surprising either.

June 29, 2010 at 11:00 AM  
Blogger Kevin K. said...

I think this is an interesting idea, but should be considered once America gets the money upfront from BP...

June 29, 2010 at 12:52 PM  
Blogger TomCat said...

Erik, while most of the major oil companies have less than a dozen safety violations in the last three years, BP has hundreds.

June 29, 2010 at 1:18 PM  

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