Saturday, May 22, 2010

BP, Or Not BP

Why is BP still in charge of cleaning up its own mess?

Hey, I'm a free marketeer from the privatize-organ-donation-and-sell-your-vote camp. But British Petroleum--and all of the affiliated companies--are dumping one hell of an externality on the world. And if there's one thing free marketeers hate, it's externalities.

Yeah, I'm suspect of the environmental movement. Yeah, I'm realistic in the way that I know that there are going to be oil spills regardless of how much legislation and how many fail-safes are involved, and if we suck down a quarter of the world's oil we had better be prepared to bear the brunt of the disasters. So while I'm not excusing it, it makes sense that it's not going to be perfect.

And yet...the monumental jackassery that has occurred on BP's part in not bothering to come up with...well, ANY backup plan, or any way to clean up this oil spill--which I might add is still going on a month after it started--is an absolute injustice.

And I'm even (partially) willing to let BP off the hook for the original disaster--it hasn't been fully investigated yet, but it seems the initial explosion that caused this was an honest-to-goodness couldn't-see-that-coming ass-ploshun.  I'm also willing to grant a certain level of variance--each disaster is different and not easy to predict, so it's impossible to counter-plan each and every scenario. It's the fact that there really wasn't any plan that made sense to clean up the aftereffects.

The question I have is...why hasn't the government stepped in?

I'm all for letting BP try to do it first--after all, they have the technology, motive, and expertise to do it better than the government. And their initial attempts actually seemed to be done in good faith, even if it didn't work. However, at this point it seems that BP has effectively given up even trying.

I'm also sympathetic to letting the government be the avenue of last recourse; however, if there is one thing the government tends to be good at is the actual mechanics of dealing with things like this. Crises and situations differ, of course, but I bet if there was a Marine stationed in the laboratory where BP's scientists are just standing around glaring and fingering his weapon we'd have had more than the Big Box of Ice Crystals and the Creepy Oil Snake to show for it.

Don't bother. It's not what you think.

And, of course, we hear that the dispersant used for oil spills like this is being used, but there are less toxic dispersants available out there. For some reason they are not being used. Oh, and in an unrelated note, the manufacturer of the more-toxic dispersant has a former BP executive on its board of directors.

This isn't a Katrina, which was just a natural disaster that the government seemed ill-prepared for. For this mess, you have a specific company you can point a finger to. And this is like watching a hurricane in slow motion. I'm just not sure why there seems to be little involvement of the government at this point. It's not because the government has been shackled by anti-state reactionaries--if anything, post-Katrina disaster response has more support in both the population and elected officials, even those who would otherwise be unsympathetic.

The Nuclear Option, of course, is to blow the well up. I hain't no engineer, but I've been told by teh internets that this is an option--collapse the well and the oil plumes will stop. It's been done before. I'm sure there are variables and backup plans for the backup plans, but it seems like it's about time to send in a detachment of Marines and a Fat Boy.

Someone please call Michael Bay

Of course, collapsing the well means higher oil prices (at least temporarily), so it's understandable from everyone's standpoint (except, you know, BP) that this be the last resort. But after a month, it seems like it's time for the last resort.

The Pledge: 
Don't solely blame BP for the oil spill. We drink a quarter of the world's oil supply, so we shouldn't be shocked--shocked!--when something like this happens. Gluttonous Americans share at least part of the blame.

That doesn't mean we shouldn't kick BP in the teeth.

If George W. Bush had waited this long with little to no action on the part of the government, he would be "fattening the wallets of oil fat cats" and "trying to pay back his buddies at Halliburton" and "he doesn't care about the environment, or people, or anything." But since it's Barack Obama, well, he can't do any wrong. Anyone who thinks otherwise is being harmfully naive.

1 comment:

  1. Hmm, so when all those earth day nay sayers say they will burn all their gas in their cars in protest, can I point them to the fact that you agree that we are gluttonous in our petrol consumption, and perhaps, just perhaps we should be have a teensy bit more responsibly?

    OOps, what I meant to say is I love you!