BP and Administration Lies, Deceit, and Coverup in the Gulf - by Stephen Lendman
From the start, Obama administration and BP officials lied and deceived the public about the Gulf spill's severity, BP CEO Tony Hayward saying (on May 18) its environmental effect will be "very modest," when, in fact, it's already catastrophic, spreading, causing long-term or permanent ecological destruction over a vast area, will likely persist for months, and, according to some experts perhaps years if nothing tried to stop it works.
Initially, BP reported a 1,000 barrels per day leak, then 5,000 after the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) estimate, while independent analysis of company supplied video and satellite imagery suggest somewhere between 50 - 100,000 barrels, the consensus settling on 70,000 or an Exxon Valdez equivalent every 3.5 days - by far, America's greatest ever environmental disaster, worsening daily.
On May 19, McClatchy Newspapers Marisa Taylor and Renee Schoof headlined, "BP Withholds Oil Spill Facts - and Government Lets It," saying:
It "hasn't publicly divulged the results of tests on the extent of workers' exposure to evaporating oil or from the burning of crude....even though researchers say that data is crucial in determining whether the conditions are safe."
Further, BP isn't monitoring conditions or releasing videos, and the Obama administration isn't pressing it despite experts, like University of Miami's fisheries biologist Peter Ortner saying "We have been screaming from day one for" it.
Meanwhile, University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science's satellite imagery analysis reported on May 18 that the spill covers 7,500 square miles, or about the size of New Jersey. Other accounts say 10,000 square miles or a Maryland equivalent. Either way, it's huge.
On May 19, McClatchy Newspaper writers Renee Schoof and Lauren French headlined, "Gulf oil spill may be 19 times bigger than originally thought," saying:
New video footage "indicates that around 95,000 barrels, or 4 million gallons, a day of crude oil may be spewing from the leaking wellhead," according to Purdue University's Professor Steve Wereley's May 19 testimony to the House Commerce and Energy Committee. He based his calculation on BP video, saying the spill could be from 76,000 - 104,000 barrels daily, but wants more footage over a longer period for a more precise calculation, what BP hasn't released up to now and won't, absent Interior Department pressure to do it.
Yet if the wellhead fails completely, these figures potentially could double, begging the question about how long Washington, BP, and the major media can deny the peril, pretending it's minor.
Wereley said the "media keeps using the 5,000 (figure), but there is scientifically" no basis for its accuracy. "BP's estimate is nowhere near correct. It is certainly larger." He sees no "possibility (under) any scenario (that the publicized) number is accurate," imagine how much less so under a worst case scenario.
On May 14, the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) "filed a formal notice of intent to sue Interior Secretary Ken Salazar for ignoring marine-mammal protection laws when approving offshore drilling operations in the Gulf of Mexico."
Salazar's Interior Department approved "three lease sales, more than 100 seismic surveys, and more than 300 drilling operations without permits required by the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Endangered Species Act."
According to CBD's oceans director, Miyoko Sakashita:
On Salazar's watch, the Gulf was treated "as a sacrifice area where laws are ignored and wildlife protection takes a backseat to oil-company profits." The Interior Department "is well aware of its obligations under the law....yet it has simply decided it cannot be bothered. You and I have to follow the law, but Interior Secretary Salazar seems to think that he and the oil companies he is supposedly overseeing do not. That is unacceptable."
CBD is suing Salazar and the Minerals Management Service (MMS) for flagrantly violating the Marine Mammal Protection Act and Endangered Species Act. Hundreds of individual and class action ones have begun coming against BP, Transocean, Halliburton and their complicit corporate partners for compensatory and punitive damages, but whatever their resolutions, they'll never compensate for lost livelihoods, destroyed lives, and environmental devastation that courts can't redress.