BP is scrawled in the oil-soaked sand in Louisiana. (photo: Jacqui Goddard, New Orleans)
I wrote 30 days ago that with all urgency British Petroleum had to be removed from command and control of the operation to save the Gulf of Mexico from the environmental catastrophe British Petroleum itself created.
That did not happen then, it still needs to happen now. In the time that has elapsed, millions of gallons of crude oil have gushed into the sea, devastating wildlife and wreaking economic ruin upon all the communities in the region.
The White House has largely replaced the BP spokespersons with government spokespersons, but command and control of the operation remains in the hands of BP. BP has inherent, fundamental conflicts of interest in addressing the disaster. Foremost is BP's obligation to its shareholders, rather than to the human communities and wild creatures laid to waste in pursuit of profit. Indeed, it was that very pursuit of profit that has led us to catastrophe.
These steps must be taken immediately:
- Declare a state of emergency in the Gulf of Mexico and surrounding communities.
- Remove BP from command and control of the disaster relief effort in the Gulf of Mexico.
- Freeze - all - of BP's US assets, financial and operational, pending the outcome of the disaster relief effort.
- Commandeer whatever assets from BP that may be helpful in bringing the disaster under control.
- Make it clear that any relief well drilled to abate the flow of oil into the Gulf waters will not be assumed by BP as a revenue-producing asset. That only reinforces the conflict of interest.
- Get in place some apparatus for skimming the oil from the water's surface and seriously consider abandoning the use of dispersants that mask the scope of the problem. That may reduce BP's exposure to liability, but the oil is still there in a more insidious form.
- Look to practical methods of channeling the oil to collection points where tankers can skim the crude. Perhaps a sleeve made from nylon or other flexible material to a collection trough at the water's surface.
- Examine using explosives at the wellhead to collapse the opening to the sea floor. This has been used successfully in the past, and might well work in this situation.
- Charlotte Randolph, president of LaFourche Parish is, according to CNN, "pleading" with Obama not to restrict new oil ventures in the region because of the economic impact on her community. This leads to the primary origin of the disaster. Shall oil and industrialization take precedence over all other means of human sustenance? Yes, some oil industry-related jobs will be lost, but the current disaster stands to wipe out the livelihood of a thousand communities in the Gulf region. The White House must hold fast on the moratorium and take control of the safety of US coastal waters.
- Gulf region residents must take matters into their own hands. Show up at meetings, demand answers, file legal actions and unite to defend the Gulf region. As is their right.
BP has made clear their priorities. It's time for the
American people to restore order.