Sunday, June 20, 2010
06/17/2010 BP will pay for their costly disasters | Thomas Noyes

Following Obama's meeting with BP bosses we should expect to see the firm leak billions long after the flow of oil is staunched

It 's not spill as much oil vomit. The ugly brown liquid poured into the Gulf of Mexico for eight weeks. The latest estimates, now also spewing as much as 60,000 barrels per day â€" that's 100,000 gallons an hour â€" with no end in sight. No wonder people are frustrated and angry.

When Barack Obama went on national television last nighttalk about the crash, he began by assuring the country that he 's always in the spotlight, and that the government is not sitting idly by. In addition, he reaffirmed his determination to hold BP accountable for the damage region , and spoke of the need to reduce our dependence on oil.

Obama followed up his address with a well-publicised meeting with BP officials, which produced the firm's agreement to suspend its dividend and place $20bn in an escrow fund for victims independently managed by Kenneth Feinberg, who managed a similar fund for the victims of 9/11. This should prevent legitimate damage claims from languishing in court for years, as happened after the Exxon Valdez disaster. BP further agreed to contribute $100m to compensate workers idled by the deep water drilling moratorium imposed by Obama. The fund won't cap BP's liability any more than its engineers have been able to cap the well head, and we should expect to see the firm leak billions long after the flow of oil is staunched.

For those who imagine an anti-British tone in the criticism of BP and its CEO, Tony Hayward, it's worth remembering that our politicians have been pretty tough on American executives as well. (Remember Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein?) Americans have grown weary of tone-deaf CEOs wondering why they can't get any love while inflicting expensive disasters upon the public through their recklessness. There is no political downside to coming down hard on BP. A recent Gallup poll found that 71% of the public thinks Obama hasn't been tough enough on the oil giant. Even so, Obama was careful to say that: "BP is a strong and viable company, and it is in all of our interests that it remain so."

in an effort to build support for a climate bill.

Obama is absolutely right that the only way to prevent future spills is to reduce our dependence on oil that is driving oil companies to drill nearly a mile below the ocean surface. We may not have reached peak oil just yet, but our continuing dependence on fossil fuels is driving industry to take on greater risks in extracting oil, natural gas and coal. This is an inherently and increasingly dirty and dangerous business, and the next barrel of oil or ton of coal will inevitably be more costly and hazardous to extract than the last.

I think the public is readier to act on global warming than those who represent them in Washington. The relentless drumbeat of the global warming sceptics may have some thinking that acting on climate change is politically impossible. But polls show that three-quarters of Americans think that global warming is real and caused by human activity, and favour government control of greenhouse gas emissions. Washington Post "/ ABC News poll, believes that even 55% of Republicans favor of action .

The effect of the BP disaster ought to add to the impetus for climate legislation in the same way that the Goldman Sachs PR debacle hastened the effort to strengthen financial regulation. Even if BP manages to plug the leaking oil rig, Obama can and should continue to talk to the public about shifting our economy from dirty fuels to clean energy.

Thomas Noyes ? Guardian News & Media Limited 2010 | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

Greeny NEWS


Blog Archive