I have followed this story since the beginning, as the rest of the US has done, mostly because I am not really given a choice. It dominates the news daily, which I wouldn’t really have an issue with if I thought it was doing so for the right reasons. Obviously, that statement means that I don’t believe that it is being done for the right reasons. I will get into that shortly. What I want to start with is a serious look at the spill, the company that is in question, and the way that the entire situation is being handled in the media. British Petroleum is really being hung out to dry and I have to question whether they are being treated fairly by the powers that be. I understand that they bear some responsibility for the disaster and the events that led up to the spill, but I really find myself questioning whether they are worthy of the absolute demonization that has happened from day one of this situation. After all, it isn’t as though they intentionally caused this to happen.
Let’s first face the facts here. This is a disaster, and I certainly am not happy that we face the current situation. I don’t think anyone on the entire planet is actually happy that there are barrels and barrels of oil leaking into the Gulf of Mexico and polluting our shores, killing the marine life, and basically making a huge mess of things. But for a moment, I think it is important to not focus on the outcome here. Focusing on the damage that is being caused infuses a gigantic amount of emotion into the thought process. What I want to do is discuss this from a logic and reasoning perspective, not an emotional one. Therefore, the need exists to not think about the damage that is being done. Let’s reserve the emotion for the folks in the media discussing this. You know, the ones who are supposed to be presenting us with facts and journalism, but who instead rely solely on emotional rhetoric and false appeals.
OK, the situation played out this way, at least to the best of my understanding: A natural gas bubble moved up the drilling pipe and caused the explosion and sinking of the Deep Horizon drilling rig. There were failsafes in place that were meant to close the pipe off in the event of an accident like this. The blowout preventer had several different ways to close off the pipe and stop the flow. It failed to do so. It appears that something prevented the device that shears off and seals the pipe from completely doing so (some form of obstruction). There was yet another device that could have been put in place, a remote shut off device. It was not put in place because BP felt it was redundant and unnecessary. The media has latched on to this fact.
You can also view a visualization of what happened and how the failsafes were supposed to work by looking at this PDF picture that details it all. Clicking the link will open the PDF in a new window.
The remote shut off valve that was not in place, from what I have read, would have cost BP roughly $500,000 to have put in place. The claims are that the company was too interested in saving money to use this device, which would have averted this disastrous spill. That claim holds no water in my opinion. First, $500k is nothing to BP, and they would have had the device in place if they thought it would make a difference. They lost more than $500k in oil the first day of the spill. Risk versus Reward says they would have put it in place if it would have made a difference. Additionally, everything that I am reading says that this device, had it been in place would have had zero effect. It would have remotely fired the blowout preventer, which was fired, and failed. So having another means for firing the blowout preventer that failed would have been useless. It is like saying having a run-flat tire would prevent the accident caused by the entire wheel falling off the car. It simply isn’t true. It appears, at least to me, that BP was correct in stating that the uninstalled remote device was unnecessary and redundant.
Flash forward a month since the incident, and we find that oil is gushing into the gulf at a high rate. It appears to me that it will absolutely have a negative impact on marine life, coastal ecosystems, and many gulf industries such as fishing and tourism. But the question is how much of this is really someone’s “fault” and how much of it is just an accident that is unfortunate, but really could not have been prevented easily, as the media seems to be claiming. Allow me to first say that I have watched a lot of different stuff on the MSM channels and when I apply critical thought to it, I find it lacking.
For example, I saw the 60 Minutes piece with the electrician who claimed to have overheard the “company man” telling “the rig supervisor” to disregard safety measures and standard operating procedures in order to speed up drilling and save money. First of all, this well was two days from being handed off to a different type of platform, the drilling was just about done. A different platform that focused on pumping was apparently being brought in ( I don’t know how normal that is, perhaps our resident rig expert Wasabi can shed some light). Second, most of his story sounded fishy to me, and perhaps fueled by the multi-million dollar lawsuit he has filed. Finally, how often do you think that an electrician is in the drilling room of a rig “overhearing” a “company man” telling a rig supervisor to disregard SOP or safety measures? I think a “company man”, if he were going to say it, wouldn’t have done so in front of an electrician, or anyone else for that matter. He is a “company man” because he is smarter than that. This is just one example of both the shoddy journalism and desire to spin a story that is prevalent in the vast majority of the “reporting” on this situation.
The problem, in my opinion, is that the media is far more interested in pushing an angle or assigning blame than it is on reporting what actually happened and why. The overriding sentiment in the media is that this accident was primarily greed driven. I see it pointed out continuously and without fail. Their line is that British Petroleum was a greedy and profit seeking oil company hell bent on saving every dime they could. As a result, this incident happened. It was caused by the greed. It was caused by the cost cutting and safety be damned mindset of the greedy company. That shouldn’t surprise anyone. The left’s assault on any capitalism driven company that has the audacity to seek a profit is unrelenting. Wall Street, the Coal Mine, and now British Petroleum. The greed angle satisfies a public that is all too eager to place blame and assume some sort of moral high ground (as a side note, isn’t it odd that the folks claiming the moral high ground are the ones pushing the seizure of the fruits of another person’s labor while simultaneously considering a company that earns an honest profit as the devil incarnate?). The greed angle is one played well by the progressive movement. The question remains, however…..
Did greed actually have anything to do what happened on the Deep Horizon Oil Rig?
Because I have to be honest here. I don’t see anything that proves that point, or even, for that matter, begins to make that point. British Petroleum has a pretty good track record for supporting environmentally conscious groups and actions. In fact, the Nature Conservancy has had ties with BP for many years. A fact that they are now trying to downplay and distance themselves from (you can read an article on this HERE ). BP has given away millions in donations to environmental groups, including tens of millions of dollars and multiple land grants. They are a company that, at least on the surface, are interested in protecting the environment even while earning a profit taking actions that have the potential to do massive environmental damage.
And when I see folks like those at the Huffington Post lambasting Rand Paul for his comment about the BP incident, I see emotion overriding relevant discussion. For example, Harry Shearer took issue with Paul over his stating that it was an accident. He wrote:
What’s escaping public notice so far, though, is his take on a far more contemporary issue: accountability. Here’s Rand Paul on the BP oil spill:
I think it’s part of this sort of blame game society in the sense that it’s always got to be someone’s fault instead of the fact that sometimes accidents happen.
The reason this quote isn’t inflaming debate the way Paul’s Libertarian dance around the Civil Rights Act has is simple: on this issue, Paul is not fringe-y or extremist or unusual; he’s spouting a line we’ve heard incessantly, from defenders of BP, from apologists for the US Army Corps of Engineers (in the case of the flooding of New Orleans), from architects of the Iraq War. Paul is channeling Donald Rumsfeld: “Stuff happens.” Nothing to see here, move on.
The deeper meaning of the quote is the standard Republican assault against lawyers who have the temerity to challenge, in court, established power. Just this week, the Louisiana legislature defeated a bill that would have punished the Tulane Legal Clinic for its work taking government agencies to court. The bill had the support of the Louisiana Chemical Association.
The political spin on Paul is that he’s worrisome because he’s not within the standard lines of the modern political debate. I’d suggest he’s worrisome because he is.
This is the mentality of the modern progressive pundit. They are actually concerned that the American public in general might believe something other than BP is the devil. That the majority of the American people might weigh the facts, look into what happened, and determine that something is an unfortunate accident rather than a conspiratorial plan to extract more profits, is troublesome. And this is, in my opinion, because they realize that they are losing control of the debate. Where the media at one time was able to control the flow of information, they no longer can. Because of this they cannot manipulate people into believing what they want them to believe.
Finally, all of this ignores one very stark reality. We are a world that depends on oil. It is used in nearly every aspect of our lives. While many folks are so quick to demonize the oil companies, they certainly are not doing anything other than whining and bitching. They are not giving up driving, or using plastics, or anything else that oil plays a part in. The whining environmentalist activists (who are right near the top of my list of most annoying people) are all bitching and no solving. They denounce nuclear power, despite it being used safely elsewhere. And they want oil, just not oil drilled for here, close to home. We cannot have it both ways, folks. We are either going to continue using oil, and therefore must be drilling for it off our coasts, or we are going to find another way. Or lots of other ways. And stop crying wolf on every solution that is offered. And stop claiming other solutions are really great solutions when they haven’t figured out how to make them work (like storing energy from windmills for example).
So let’s talk about the BP incident. Let’s discuss the facts, because the one thing that I am absolutely convinced about is that I don’t have all of the facts. I only have what I have found. And I obviously have my own interpretation as to what it means when I read it. Take out the emotional rhetoric. Take out the games that the media plays (and both sides play it, it is just the left on this particular issue). When we rely on oil, we are going to run the risks of accidents such as this one. It sucks, but that is the reality. So is the oil spill the result of a tragic accident, or a greed conspiracy? Should criminal charges be sought against BP? The White House is threatening them. Are they justified?