|BP Oil Spill Update 6/2/2010
GULF COAST STATES, estimated 2008 population:
Texas: 24,782,302 (2009 est.)
TOTAL GULF STATES' POPULATION: 55.1 MILLION
TOTAL US POPULATION: 309,402,000 (2010 estimate)
Approximately 17.8 % of the US population lives in the five states
with shoreline in The Gulf of Mexico.
Is the effort we’ve seen to date from our national government the best
we can expect? If so, we are really screwed.
BP's value is decreasing by the day. So far, less than 1% of the oil
released by the volcano has come ashore. This oil volcano may spew for
another 60, 90 days or more. Even as large and as profitable as BP is,
there is no way that they will be able to pay for even a fraction of
the damage they are causing. Therefore, perhaps the takeover of BP is
the only scenario that would help to pay for this disaster?
Is this such a "radical" idea, given the radical, permanent damage to
the Gulf ecosystem, and the Gulf and US economy?
However, given how well connected BP is, to British and US
political/corporate elites, and given that our government is owned by
corporations, this will likely never happen.
Five reasons Obama should put BP under receivership
By Robert Reich, Guest blogger / 06.01.10
It’s time for the federal government to put BP under temporary
receivership, which gives the government authority to take over BP’s
operations in the Gulf of Mexico until the gusher is stopped. This is
the only way the public can know what’s going on, be confident enough
resources are being put to stopping the gusher, ensure BP’s strategy
is correct, know the government has enough clout to force BP to use a
different one if necessary, and be sure the President is ultimately in
If the government can take over giant global insurer AIG and the auto
giant General Motors and replace their CEOs, in order to keep them
financially solvent, it should be able to put BP’s north American
operations into temporary receivership in order to stop one of the
worst environmental disasters in U.S. history.
The Obama administration keeps saying BP is in charge because BP has
the equipment and expertise necessary to do what’s necessary. But
under temporary receivership, BP would continue to have the equipment
and expertise. The only difference: the firm would unambiguously be
working in the public’s interest. As it is now, BP continues to be
responsible primarily to its shareholders, not to the American public.
As a result, the public continues to worry that a private for-profit
corporation is responsible for stopping a public tragedy.
Five reasons for taking such action:
1. We are not getting the truth from BP. BP has continuously and
dramatically understated size of gusher. In the last few days, BP
chief Tony Hayward has tried to refute reports from scientists that
vast amounts of oil from the spill are spreading underwater. Hayward
says BP’s sampling shows “no evidence” oil is massing and spreading
underwater across the Gulf. Yet scientists from the University of
South Florida, University of Georgia, University of Southern
Mississippi and other institutions say they’ve detected vast amounts
of underwater oil, including an area roughly 50 miles from the spill
site and as deep as 400 feet. Government must be clearly in charge of
getting all the facts, not waiting for what BP decides to disclose and
2. We have no way to be sure BP is devoting enough resources to
stopping the gusher. BP is now saying it has no immediate way to stop
up the well until August, when a new “relief” well will reach the
gushing well bore, enabling its engineers to install cement plugs.
August? If government were in direct control of BP’s north American
assets, it would be able to devote whatever of those assets are
necessary to stopping up the well right away.
3. BP’s new strategy for stopping the gusher is highly risky. It wants
to sever the leaking pipe cleanly from atop the failed blowout
preventer, and then install a new cap so the escaping oil can be
pumped up to a ship on the surface. But scientists say that could
result in an even bigger volume of oil – as much as 20 percent more —
gushing from the well. At least under government receivership, public
officials would be directly accountable for weighing the advantages
and disadvantages of such a strategy. As of now, company officials are
doing the weighing. Which brings us to the fourth argument for
4. Right now, the U.S. government has no authority to force BP to
adopt a different strategy. Saturday, Energy Secretary Steven Chu and
his team of scientists essentially halted BP’s attempt to cap the
spewing well with a process known as “top kill,” which injected
drilling mud and other materials to try to counter the upward pressure
of the oil. Apparently the Administration team was worried that the
technique would worsen the leak. But under what authority did the
Administration act? It has none. Asked Sunday whether U.S. officials
told BP to stop the top-kill attempt, Carol Browner, the White House
environmental advisor, said, “We told them of our very, very grave
concerns” about the danger. Expressing grave concerns is not enough.
The President needs legal authority to order BP to protect the United
5. The President is not legally in charge. As long as BP is not under
the direct control of the government he has no direct line of
authority, and responsibility is totally confused. For example, listen
for the “we” and “they” pronouns that were used by Carol Browner in
response to a question on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday (emphasis
added): “We’re now going to move into a situation where they’re going
to attempt to control the oil that’s coming out, move it to a vessel,
take it onshore ….We always knew that the relief well was the
permanent way to close this .… Now we move to the third option, which
is to contain it. If [the new cap on the relief well is] a snug fit,
then there could be very, very little oil. If they’re not able to get
as snug a fit, then there could be more. We’re going to hope for the
best and prepare for the worst.” When you get pronoun confusion like
this, you can bet on confusion — both inside the Administration and
among the public. There is no good reason why “they” are in charge of
an operation of which “we” are hoping for the best and preparing for
The President should temporarily take over BP’s Gulf operations. We
have a national emergency on our hands. No president would allow a
nuclear reactor owned by a private for-profit company to melt down in
the United States while remaining under the direct control of that
company. The meltdown in the Gulf is the environmental equivalent.
From the 1953 CIA Overthrow of Democracy in Iran, to the Iraq War, to
the Criminal Gulf Catastrophe and Deaths, BP Was There
by Mark Karlin
Global Research, June 2, 2010
Buzzflash - 2010-05-30
If you were to draw an oily line from the first exploitation of oil in
the Middle East by the British in 1901 (they were in the process of
converting their then world dominating naval fleet from coal to oil
and were in desperate need of it) to the overthrow of the secular
democratic leader in Iran, Mohammed Mossadeq, in 1953, to the Iraq
War, to the criminal environmental catastrophe in the Gulf, BP would
have been there.
But the fourth largest company in the world wasn't always called BP.
It used to be owned by the British Government (remember the navy
armada in need of oil). It was named the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company
when the CIA teamed up with the British because the Western style
Iranian leader Mossadeq wanted to nationalize Britain's 100% owned and
run giant oil concession in Iran, and the West would have none of
that. So Eisenhower authorized "Operation Ajax," and the Shah of Iran
was placed in power -- ruling with an iron fist and the dreaded SAVAK,
all the time fully backed by the U.S. -- leading to the radical
theocratic revolution that we still confront today. All the time BP,
which formally adopted its current name in 1954, was there.
BP was there throughout the de facto colonization of the Middle East
to provide oil to the West, the British and the U.S. remaining strong
partners in keeping any recalcitrant nations in line. Which leads to
the Iraq War and why many Americans and Brits were puzzled by Tony
Blair's eagerness to go along with Cheney's secret oil committee plan
to seize Iraq oil fields and Bush's belief that the war was Biblically
justified. BP is the largest corporation in the UK and the third
largest energy company. Do you have any more questions?
BP and its American counterparts are part of the corporate oligarchy
that run governments when it comes to energy policy. They don't take
orders from sovereign nations; they give them. They are unelected, but
because of their hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue and
profit, they run the show when it comes to oil policy, and profit
comes first: forget about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Oil is their gold; we are just consumers who can be replaced at any
time by more consumers, vassals to the oil company Masters of the
Universe. There is no brake on their malfeasance, greed and criminal
behavior, nor their ability to get nations to go to war, overthrow
democratically elected leaders, and to get away with pollution of
proportions beyond the imagination.
For over a century, whenever American and British GIs have died for
oil, whenever pollution and toxicity have been let loose to ravage our
shores, whenever residents have died of cancer caused by the oil
refining process and spills, whenever Congress and White Houses have
loosened regulations to allow reckless and massively damaging
behavior, BP was there, along with their American counterparts:
companies so large that they are above the law and governmental
Most American presidencies and Congress -- and particularly the
Bush/Cheney Presidency -- have regarded oil companies and the control
of oil resources as essential to the survival of the American economy.
As a result oil companies and the secondary businesses that support
them -- such as Halliburton and Transocean -- are indeed able to call
the shots and get the U.S. and the UK to do their bidding. In the UK,
BP is the power behind 10 Downing Street when it comes to foreign
policy, drilling, and all things oil; that is why Tony Blair could not
refuse to join the Bush/Cheney (and Rumsfeld) attack on Iraq.
Which leads us to the catastrophe in the Gulf. Of course, BP was off
drilling in waters too deep for them to have developed a plan in case
the well blew. Of course, they had memos indicating that they valued
profits over lives and the environment. Of course, they have lied
about the size of the oil pollution and their ability to fix it from
the moment that more then 10 men died as the well exploded. That is
their job. It has been since 1901, when their predecessor company
began exploration in Iran. During her "reign," the iron maiden,
Margaret Thatcher, allowed BP to be privatized, and it quickly -- Pac
Man style -- gobbled up several other oil companies, including AMOCO.
For more than a century, we -- citizens of a nation founded on
democratic principles of citizens deciding their nation's destiny --
have been nothing but pawns in the war over access to oil, wherever it
is or might be found.
And the forecast in any shift of power from oil governance to
governance by the people is looking bleaker every day.
BP share plunge wipes billions off UK pension funds: Spill crisis
deepens as U.S. starts criminal probe
By David Gardner, Daily Mail
Last updated at 7:49 AM on 2nd June 2010
• Billions wiped off the value of pension funds
• BP's market value falls 17% in just one day
• Company to promise shareholder dividend
Billions of pounds were wiped off BP's market value yesterday as the
beleaguered company battled to shut down its massive oil leak in the
Gulf of Mexico.
Speculation over BP's future mounted after its share price fell 17 per
cent when London's markets opened after the holiday weekend.
Although the price recovered in the afternoon, £12billion was wiped
off the value of its shares.
Billions of pounds have also been wiped off the value of pension funds
due to the extraordinary decline of one of Britain's biggest companies
- which is a key stock for many UK pension fund investments.
This share fall will inevitably leave Britain's pensioners poorer.
Alan Smith, pensions expert and chief executive of financial planning
firm Capital Asset, said as well as being a disaster for BP it was
also a disaster for pensioners.
'Most pension funds will undoubtedly have exposure to BP an will be
affected by this,' he said.
'If the company were to halve in value this could lead to pension
values going down by one or two per cent.
'Pretty much every pension fund in the country owns a bit of BP and it
has now fallen some £45billion in value.'
He also warned that the funds would sink even further as the markets
continued to struggle.
The share collapse means a £15,000-a-year pension will be cut by up to
£400 a year with possibly worse to come.
Despite the plunge in BP's value, the company is still expected to
promise shareholders their annual dividend will be maintained. Last
year the company paid out more than £10billion.
The news came as the U.S. government launched a criminal probe into
the oil spill. Federal agencies, including the FBI, are participating
in the probe and 'if we find evidence of illegal behaviour, we will be
forceful in our response', U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said.
BP will begin a new and risky plan to funnel oil from the well to the
Robots will begin cutting through the top of the well's lower marine
riser package, and it could take up to 72 hours to get the containment
Yesterday's results meant the company's stock has fallen £42billion -
more than a third of its value - since the fatal oilrig explosion six
With no end to the environmental nightmare in sight, some analysts are
predicting BP may not survive.
'This situation has now gone far beyond concerns of BP's chief
executive being fired, or shareholder dividend payouts being cut -
it's got the real smell of death,' said Dougie Youngson, oil analyst
at Arbuthnot Securities, a London-based investment banking firm. 'The
key question is now "can BP survive?"
'We are very negative on the prospects for BP and this situation has a
real possibility breaking the company.
'Given the collapse in the share price and the potential for it to
fall further, we expect it could become a takeover target -
particularly if its operating position in the U.S. becomes untenable.'
The blue chip heavyweight's decline dragged the wider market down in
London, with the FTSE 100 falling 108.7 points to 5079.7.
BP boss Tony Hayward has vowed to clean up 'every drop' of oil.
But the calamity has cost the company up to £700million and the
eventual bill is expected to top £15billion if the leak continues into
August as expected.
The London-based firm has received 30,000 insurance claims and made
15,000 payouts totalling £30million.
After abandoning the doomed top kill plan at the weekend, BP engineers
were working yesterday on a new 'cut and cap' operation to siphon some
of the 800,000 gallons of oil a day gushing from the undersea well up
to tankers on the surface.
The initial step to sever the ruptured pipeline was expected to go
ahead late last night or this morning to make it easier for a
snug-fitting cap to be fitted over it.
Remote-controlled robots were being used to carry out the tricky operation.
But the White House has warned that if this latest venture fails, it
could result in boosting the flow of crude by 20 per cent by removing
resistance the pinched pipe may have created.
The one solution that seems likely to work - drilling relief wells to
intercept the oil below the damaged well - won't be completed for two
About 120 miles of Louisiana coastline have been contaminated by
slicks and tar balls and a quarter of fishing areas have been closed
With hurricane season about to hit the region, residents fear the oil
could be washed inland.
President Obama yesterday vowed again that BP would pay the financial
bill for the 'greatest environmental disaster of its kind in our
Freeze BP’s Assets Now!
The spill does not just affect the states that border the Gulf, but
the entire country. The Gulf is a major asset and a national
treasure. In the end, it will be America stuck with a large part of
the clean-up bill. The people in Alaska are still dealing with the
after effects of the Valdez. Exxon fought paying claims for nearly 20
years until company lawyers got damages reduced to a mere $500 million
from an original award of $2.5.billion. This can not happen again on
an even larger scale. That’s why I say freeze BP’s assets now, at
least in the U.S.!
Damage that Could Last for Decades
If you add up the cost of criminal and civil litigation, the damage to
beaches and wetlands, lost revenue from tourism and fishing far into
the future, the actual damages that the company might pay could run
into the hundreds of billions of dollars. Not even a company the size
and strength of BP can take that kind of financial hit and stay in
business. BP’s share price has been nearly cut in half since the
spill happened just six weeks ago. If BP does go under, then the
taxpayer will, once again, have to pick up the tab.
This could not have come at a worse time because America has already
bailed out everything from banks, hedge funds, car companies and even
part of Europe. Not even a world power the size and strength of
America can take that kind of hit and not suffer serious consequences.
This gusher will guarantee a financial downturn this year. I just
hope BP will stay in business long enough to at least partially
compensate the people whose lives will be destroyed by this enormous
Scientists to Back Dispersant Use, Despite Concerns:
By JEFFREY BALL
A federally convened group of scientists is set to recommend that BP
PLC and the government continue spraying chemicals into the Gulf of
Mexico to help prevent leaking oil from washing ashore, even though
the scientists have serious concerns about the potential long-term
damage to sea life.
The group's report, due this week, comes after BP's latest efforts to
plug the leaking Deepwater Horizon oil well failed. If further interim
measures to cap the well don't work, large additional amounts of the
chemicals, known as "dispersants," could be sprayed into the Gulf
until relief wells can be completed and the gusher capped, which could
take until late summer.
Research ships sponsored by the Obama administration and universities
have recently found what scientists believe is evidence that clouds of
tiny oil droplets are collecting deep underwater.
Tests are under way to determine whether the droplets are oil—and, if
so, whether they were caused by the dispersants. Scientists suspect
those droplets could harm fish, birds and sea mammals in coming months
But scientists say they can't make firm predictions about the effects
of chronic exposure, in part because dispersants have rarely been used
for long periods of time. In addition, funding for research on
dispersants has lagged in recent years as concern about oil spills
slipped off the political agenda.
"The bottom line is that there hasn't been political will to fund
this, because we haven't had a spill," said Nancy Kinner, co-director
of an oil-spill-response institute at the University of New Hampshire.
When the Gulf spill began in April, her institute—the Coastal Response
Research Center, created in 2003 with funding from the National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration—hadn't received any new federal
funding for oil-spill research since 2007.
Last week, with only a few days' notice, the government paid Ms.
Kinner's institute to hold a large meeting on dispersant use in
Louisiana. The report from the closed-door meeting will recommend that
dispersants continue to be sprayed on the gulf as a "tradeoff" to
prevent massive amounts of oil from washing into coastal marshes, she
said. The report also will call on the federal government to continue
to do environmental testing to monitor whether that tradeoff remains
"We are assuming that keeping it out in the water column is better
than letting it into the coastal areas," Ms. Kinner said of the
leaking oil. Louisiana's marshes are crucial to many species—including
to shrimp, a major industry in the state.
Ms. Kinner, other scientists and top administration officials say the
tradeoff makes them increasingly uneasy.
Last month, the Environmental Protection Agency ordered BP to find a
less-toxic alternative to the dispersant it has been using most,
Corexit 9500, or explain why it couldn't find one.
But Nalco Co., Corexit's maker, says the dispersant is safe. And when
BP told the EPA that it could find no less-toxic dispersant in the
quantities necessary to fight this spill, the EPA relented. The agency
asked BP to reduce the amount of Corexit 9500 the company is using.
EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said in testimony to a House
subcommittee Thursday that the administration has requested an
additional $2 million for research into the environmental and health
effects of the spill, including the use of dispersants. The
government's "modest investment" in dispersant research thus far, she
said, "must increase to address the uncertainties that have arisen"
from the spill.
The ongoing leak from the well on the ocean floor raises two main
concerns in the Gulf: the effect of dispersed oil particles and the
effect of the chemical dispersants themselves. Particularly unclear is
how sea life will fare when exposed to dispersed oil over long periods
of time. Past studies have looked at how short-term exposure could
kill fish and sea mammals.
The long-term question didn't get much consideration before April 20,
when the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded and unleashed the
torrent of oil that has been spewing into the Gulf ever since. Based
on government estimates released last week, the well is pouring out
12,000 to 19,000 barrels of oil every day. That would make the Gulf
spill bigger than the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster.
The EPA doesn't regulate dispersants' toxicity. It requires dispersant
manufacturers to test the amount of dispersant necessary to kill a
given quantity of one type of fish and one type of shrimp in lab
tests. But it doesn't impose any maximum toxicity level that
dispersants must stay below.
The EPA does require dispersant manufacturers to show that their
chemicals break apart and sink a given amount of oil in a given time
in a lab test. The dispersants that have that documentation are placed
on a list maintained by the EPA, along with the dispersants' toxicity
Because only small amounts of dispersant were used in the past, "the
toxicity of a dispersant has not historically been a driving
consideration," said Chris Piehler, director of the clean-waters
project for the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality and one
of the Louisiana officials involved in the current oil-spill response.
BP and the federal government said they have applied more than 900,000
gallons of dispersant onto the oil so far, an unprecedented amount.
The EPA's Ms. Jackson said she hoped the quantities of dispersant
could be reduced as much as 75% from initial levels, and federal
officials say the amount of dispersant being applied to the spill is
down. But even at those reduced quantities, there will still be a lot
of dispersant in the Gulf.
Write to Jeffrey Ball at firstname.lastname@example.org
BP Commands Government to Strangle Off Media Coverage of Oil Gusher
May 30, 2010
On Saturday, the Associated Press reported that the government is
strangling off access to areas of the Gulf of Mexico impacted by what
is now admitted to be the worst oil spill in U.S. history.
“The Associated Press, CBS and others have reported coverage problems
because of the restrictions, which officials say are needed to protect
wildlife and ensure safe air traffic,” the AP reported. “A CBS news
story said one of its reporting teams was threatened with arrest by
the Coast Guard and turned back from an oiled beach at the mouth of
the Mississippi River.” Officials said the denial of access was under
BP and other leviathan transnational corporations own Congress and the
White House. Obama’s apparent disinterest in the oil gusher until very
recently is not because he does not believe the situation merits
attention. The federal government has done little beyond engage in
public relations management because transnational corporations and
bankers rule (and own) the political process. BP continues to insist
it is in control of the situation and the government continues to
defer. BP does not want the media poking around and reporting the
severity of the disaster to the American people.
“U.S. Coast Guard and Federal Aviation Administration officials said
BP PLC, the company responsible for cleaning up the spill, was not
controlling access,” Matthew Brown writes for AP. “Coast Guard
officials also said there was no intent to conceal the scope of the
disaster. Rather, they said, the spill’s complexity had made it
difficult to allow the open access sought by the media.”
And yet it is admitted BP contractors are operating alongside the FAA
and Coast Guard at command centers that approve or deny flight
requests. Charter pilots say they have been denied permission to fly
below 3,000 feet when they have reporters or photographers aboard.
The Coast Guard admits access to the area is controlled by the White
House. “The chief of the Coast Guard’s public affairs programs branch
said access had been hampered by a cumbersome approval process that
stretched all the way to the White House. Chief Warrant Officer Adam
Wine said White House officials had to sign off on requests for tours
of the spill zone before they could proceed.”
The government is playing a shell game in order to prevent coverage.
“White House officials referred questions about their involvement to
[Coast Guard Lt. Commander] Wyman. He said Wine’s description of the
chain of command was incorrect and that all requests from media were
decided on by the command center in Robert, La. The Department of
Homeland Security is notified, he said.”
Meanwhile, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi blamed the Bush
administration for the disaster. “Many of the people appointed in the
Bush administration are still burrowed in the agencies that are
supposed to oversee the [oil] industry,” Pelosi said when asked if
Democrats could have prevented or mitigated the crisis by keeping a
closer watch on the industry, reports Talk Radio News Service. Pelosi
said “the cozy relationships between the Bush administration’s agency
leadership and the industry is clear.”
In 2008, Obama was the largest recipient of BP’s largess. “Obama held
a sizable edge in contributions from BP, even though in general BP
sent more money to Republican candidates than Democrats that election
cycle,” reports PolitiFact. “Obama got more during the campaign from
BP employees than McCain did; but McCain got significantly more from
the oil and gas industry as a whole. BP has spent a lot of money
lobbying since Obama became president, but that money has gone to
Democrats and Republicans alike — and most often to those on
Pelosi is simply a liar — and not a very effective one. In April she
made the ludicrous claim that Wall Street has zero influence on
Congress. “It doesn’t matter” that Wall Street has given more to
Democrats, she said. “What matters is what the policy is that we put
forth here. And our policy, regardless of contribution, is to rein in
Wall Street,” Pelosi said during a weekly press conference.