Get ready for the BP bailout debate. As the most hated company in America led by the most despised CEO in business continues its systematic deceptions about the magnitude of the catastrophe, its systematic secrecy and threats of reprisal against employees who speak the truth in public and its systematic blockade against reporters seeking the basic facts, get ready for the mother of all political debates.
Energy & Environment
British Petroleum is already showing how it plans to "make it right" for the desperate Gulf-region residents and businesspeople who are drowning in oil. Already, the lifelines are so entangled in impossible procedures and other delays that any rescue will come long after these hard-luck victims have gone under.
In other words, there seems to be much more corporate concern over preserving the financial health of the company than for those who were simply going about their business while the renegade drillers carelessly set off their calamitous gusher. Chances are those life-sustaining businesses will be wiped out while procedural obstacles block meaningful assistance till it's too late.
As White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel once mused, a crisis shouldn't be wasted. The administration has clearly given its blessing to a new push by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to request a comprehensive energy reform bill by July 4. Our report by Alexander Bolton notes Reid is asking chairmen of the committees of jurisdiction on energy and climate to craft legislation that addresses "the unfolding disaster in the Gulf of Mexico" by ensuring that oil companies are held accountable for damages and provide "swift and fair compensation" to those who suffer losses related to the accident.
Now we see the result of Dick Cheney's secret energy task force meetings and Sarah Palin's greed fanaticism of "Drill, baby, drill.” Now we see the truth: If Al Gore and John Kerry had been inaugurated president, our dependence on foreign oil would have been long ago reduced, and the poison destroying our jobs and killing the pelicans on the coast of our nation would not be happening today.
Politics means choices. Governing means deciding. Al Gore has spent a lifetime warning about the polluting and economic dangers of dependence on foreign oil. John Kerry is battling today to wage war against climate change and unshackle the potential of new energy sources. They were right all along. They should have been heard long ago. They should be heeded today.
The entire country is mad at BP, and I join in the frustration — technical problems, mounting since March, weren't warning enough for the greatest environmental disaster the United States has ever seen, and now the CEO is sorry for revealing his pity party; he just wants his life back.
But with criminal investigations under way and lawyers, members of the media and others calculating how much per barrel BP could be liable for under the Clean Water Act, the question of the government's role in offshore oil drilling has been drowned out in the hunger to make BP pay for what it has done.
OK, I am going to leave aside the constant “Drill, baby, drill” refrain, the
love affair with oil companies, the anti-environment rhetoric from Sarah Palin
and her Fox friends.
My one question to the anti-government Tea Party movement (and Sarah) — to all of you who believe government should just stay out of the way of business, remove those pesky regulations, get big government off of the backs of free enterprise — is:
How sad it is that the energy-company enablers in our government don't determine that the Gulf Coast is "too big to fail.” Maybe then they would stop dithering and take whatever decisive action necessary to prevent further ecological and economic destruction.
We could call it Tar Prevention, "TARP.” But instead of throwing money at the corporate offenders, the taxpayers would immediately seize whatever assets of British Petroleum it will take to effectively and quickly jam a cork in this devastating diarrhea.
The Department of Justice and congressional committees should open a preliminary inquiry about whether BP committed perjury in testimony before Congress. All video of the spill should be released publicly. Subpoenas should be issued for any information from within BP about its private estimates of the size of the spill and the dangers of the dispersants. Key BP personnel should be formally interviewed by investigators.
There's no question the ongoing spill in the Gulf of Mexico and BP's inability to contain it will have long-term repercussions on the industry and how government responds to future incidents. There's also little doubt this spill sets environmentalists clearly in the driver's seat for future policies as they relate to offshore drilling. I don't fault them. After all, industry made the mistakes, and boy, were they monumental. Perhaps it's time for the green faction to exert some muscle and exact a price for all those years industry thumbed its nose at their agenda.
Now we learn that the Obama administration weakened environmental impact standards and circumvented permit rules for offshore drilling.
We already knew that the administration of former President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney was fully in league with offshore drillers. And while congressional committees proceed with righteous indignation about the latest spill, both parties in past Congresses, and in the current Congress, are complicit with a dreadful failure of oversight.