(Article changed on August 21, 2013 at 10:56)
All of three years ago, five-million barrels of Gulf crude oil, made more poisonous by adding toxic dispersant, redefined the meaning of marine pollution. Now, its brand badly tarnished, BP's latest CEO, Robert Dudley, dumps its latest sludge, a slick concoction of chutzpah and subterfuge. Much darker, very unlike the botched $100 million ad whitewash, promising that BP "will get it done. We will make this right"?
Now, the world's pollution champion reinforces why federal prosecutors won't sweat when linking BP's chronic "lack of business integrity" to staggering negligence sentences. BP's frenzied chicanery, however, is not without stratagem or context. Acting as if the culpable decide when liability payments end, the BP syndicate openly stonewalls on contracted obligations, thus dumping two growing epidemics, in public health and Gulf restoration, on everyone else. Just as mixing in the dispersant Corexit increases oil contamination 52 times, this reckless, high-rolling oil delinquent dispatches its latest PR campaign from hell.
Though fuming over its "punitive" banishment from federal oil bidding contracts, BP underlines the bad faith that caused this exile by threats to renege on stipulated debts while promoting a snitch hotline to dig up scores of claims BP alone deems "fraudulent." Thus does the unrepentant sludge-slinger reinvent itself as the great victim of its own infamy. However nasty, the gall here is revealing: having exchanged big assets for big penalties, shamed its brand and drove away gas sales since '10, BP appears trapped between underestimating current spill liabilities and an epic trial that will determine earth-shaking payments for Clean Water violations.
Tone-deafness bespeaks desperation, though such industry misconduct is as predictable as the crude leaking still from the exploded rig, along with thousands of aging oil platforms and countless punctures across the Gulf basin. Why not duplicate Exxon stonewalling, defiant still over a final, unpaid $92 million recovery debt from its Alaska spill 25 years ago , when Bush I was president?
Wayward Hayward Redux
The silver-tongued Dudley reprises Tony Hayward's gaffe-ridden legacy behind 2010's media punching bag. Hayward simply overlooked BP's own explosion had taken 11 real lives before whining, "I'd like my life back." Moral credibility gone, tech savvy then evaporated, "The oil is on the surface. There aren't any plumes." And worst of all, redefining understatement for all time, "the environmental impact of this disaster is likely to have been very, very modest." Modest are top BP brain cells, suffering one imagines from repeated, post-disaster head banging. Only the super-profitable oil patch survives such malfeasance.
Likewise, Dudley absurdly rails against BP's alleged overpayment for "fraud" so great it's just "not good for America." Translate "not good for America" as "very bad for BP," as BP and America join as wronged parties. Does withholding cash from sick workers not put Dudley in Hayward company? Then, breaking new ground, Dudley declaims, "The Gulf has bounced back really well. And I'd like to think that we played a big role. People who lead you to believe that the Gulf of Mexico is an environmental Armageddon--I don't think have been there."