In the end, this is bigger than BP and its policy of cheaping-out and skiving the rules. This is about the anti-regulatory mania which has infected the American body politic. While the "tea baggers" are simply its extreme expression, US politicians of all stripes love to attack "the little bureaucrat with the fat rule book." It began with Ronald Reagan and was promoted, most vociferously, by Bill Clinton and the head of Clinton's de-regulation committee, one Al Gore.
Americans want government off our backs ... that is, until a folding crib crushes the skull of our baby; Toyota accelerators speed us to our death; banks blow our savings on gambling sprees; and crude oil smothers the Mississippi.
Then, suddenly, it's, "where was hell was the Government!" Why didn't the government do something to stop it?
The answer is, because government took you at your word they should get out of the way of business, that business could be trusted to police itself. It was only last month that BP, lobbying for new deepwater drilling, testified to Congress that additional equipment and inspection wasn't needed.
You should meet some of these little bureaucrats with the fat rulebooks. Like Dan Lawn, the inspector from the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation who warned and warned and warned, before the Exxon Valdez grounding, that BP and Alyeska were courting disaster in their arrogant disregard of the rulebook. In 2006, I printed his latest warnings about BP's culture of negligence.
When the choice is between Dan Lawn's rule book and a bag of tea, Dan's my man.
This just in: Becnel tells me that one of the platform workers has informed him that the BP well was apparently deeper than the 18,000 feet depth reported. BP failed to communicate that additional depth to Halliburton crews who therefore poured in too small a cement cap for the additional pressure caused by the extra depth. So it blew.Why didn't Halliburton check? "Gross negligence on everyone's part," says Becnel. Negligence driven by penny-pinching bottom-line squeezing. BP says its worker is lying. Someone's lying here: the man on the platform or the company that has practiced prevarication from Alaska to Louisiana?
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