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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 5/17/10

BP Needs a New Logo

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I used to think that BP was rare among oil companies, because its ads expressed a concern for the environment, and the company was allegedly also working on alternative energy sources. I believed the PR and fell for the green-and-sunny-looking logo. After all, BP's website talks about how the company is invested in the development of wind, solar, and hydrogen energy, biofuels, and carbon capture and storage.

But then my bubble burst.

In the wake of the Gulf Coast oil spill, my research into BP showed me its true colors. And its true colors aren't so sunny. The only green thing BP really seems to care about is money, not the earth or its inhabitants (unless, of course, you inhabit the board room).

It seems that this oil spill was both predictable and preventable -- if only BP had cared.

It seems that a safety device was available for $500,000 which could have prevented the oil disaster. This acoustic switch would trigger an underwater valve to shut down a well in case of a blowout, like the one that recently happened in the Gulf. BP, however, decided that $500,000 was too much to spend on safety, despite the fact that its 2009 profits totaled some $14 billion. So BP spent its money instead on working with Dick Cheney to block regulations that would have required the use of this and other safety precautions.

And it doesn't end there. BP turns out to have a long and solid history of forgoing safety in favor of profits.

For instance, the U.S. Chemical Safety Board determined that a 2005 explosion at BP's Texas City refinery that killed 15 workers happened because a "combination of cost-cutting, production, and failure to invest [in precautions] caused a progressive deterioration of safety at the refinery."

There you go. This $14-billion-per-year company doesn't care about its workers. This $14-billion-per-year company doesn't really care about the planet. This $14-billion-per-year company doesn't care what kind of environmental legacy it leaves behind for the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of its executives and directors (never mind the rest of us). It seems to care only about short-term profits from year to year. The company's directors, after all, will likely be dead before the worst effects of climate change become reality. So it's invisible despite the lip service.

If BP wants to keep its logo green, it will need to ditch the sunny motif and go with a currency theme, for truth in advertising.

Better yet, superimpose the image of a blackened, oil-covered duck onto the green and yellow sunburst.

Or, best of all, learn a lesson, give up on dinosaur oil, and shift all the company's resources into alternative energy development going forward.

Only then will the existing logo still work. But I shall not hold my breath.

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Mary Shaw is a Philadelphia-based writer and activist, with a focus on politics, human rights, and social justice. She is a former Philadelphia Area Coordinator for the Nobel-Prize-winning human rights group Amnesty International, and her views (more...)
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