Friday, 18 June 2010

Tony Hayward gives evasive answers to Congress, and the political clowns distract from real issues

Guest post by Kathleen

Yesterday, the CEO of BP Tony Hayward was due to answer questions regarding the Gulf of Mexico oil spill before a Congressional hearing which hoped to make sense of how the disaster occurred and to receive an apology for the disaster that his company created. Instead the American people were treated to a day at the circus when a Republican implied that a corporation is a bigger victim than the “little people” and that BP deserved an apology for having been through a “shakedown” by President Obama.

Joe Barton, a Republican Congressman, yesterday made an apology to BP CEO Tony Hayward. His apology stated that he was “ashamed of what happened in the White House” and insinuated that BP had been bullied by the Government of the USA into the setting up of the $20 billion fund to compensate and protect the victims of the biggest oil spill and environmental disaster that the United States has faced so far in its history.

It’s clear that this attack was politically motivated and had nothing to do with actually solving any problems created by the oil spill itself, nor to solving the disastrous aftermath of monumental consequences for the livelihoods of the fisherman, tourist industry and wildlife in the area in the near and distant future. We witnessed the immediate aftermath of indignation by members who jumped on Barton for his insensitive remarks. Republican colleagues called for his resignation. The repercussions were huge, more apologies ensued and Tony Hayward’s statement quizzically played second fiddle to the brouhaha.

Hayward, despite the fact that he had previously been sent a list of prepared questions that the Congressional hearing required answers to, repeatedly and discouragingly refused to cooperate with Congress and by default the American people. His responses were at best evasive and at worst merely soundbites repeated from previous interviews. Angry Congressmen were later forced to conclude that they had not learned anything new from his efficacious testimony and even questioned whether or not Hayward had even looked at the questions they sought answers to.

Download the full text of Tony Hayward's prepared testimony HERE.

Hayward did manage to say that BP was sorry for the spill but did not take responsibility for disregarding indications that the rig might suffer a blowout and instead went ahead and capped the well. A memorandum released on May 25th by the House Energy & Commerce Committee stated that:

Further, BP’s preliminary findings indicate that there were other events in the 24 hours before the explosion that require further inquiry. As early as 5:05 p.m., almost 5 hours before the explosion, an unexpected loss of fluid was observed in the riser pipe, suggesting that there were leaks in the annular preventer in the BOP. Four hours before the explosion, during efforts to begin negative pressure testing, the system gained 15 barrels of liquid instead of the 5 barrels that were expected, leading to the possibility that there was an "influx from the well."

No where in his testimony did Hayward take responsibility for the fact that the indications of “leaks in the annular preventer” were not acted upon. It is clear from this statement that they were aware that the blowout preventer could be failing and yet they still went ahead with the operation of capping the well. Once again the will of the corporations takes precedence over that of the environment.

The Memorandum concluded:

Several concerns about the blowout preventer were identified by BP including the failure of its emergency disconnect system (EDS), the failure of its automated mode function or deadman switch, the failure of the BOP’s shearing functions, and the failure of the remote operated vehicle interventions. The BP investigation has also raised concerns about the maintenance history, modification, inspection, and testing of the BOP.

The situation in the gulf is now beyond any expectation of a quick solution. It never was going to be resolved swiftly and it should be accepted that at most the mess will eventually be partially cleaned up. It will be many decades before the gulf is free from the effects of the oil and the chemical dispersants which are choking the life out of it and are smearing oily streaks on the coast and the lives of those who depend upon its bounty and beauty to make a living. The BP executives, the government, the environmental agencies, scientists and those who live there understand that the delicate ecosystem is under tremendous pressure and that recovery will be painstakingly slow. Significantly it is now understood that not only will the livelihoods of present generations be affected but that of the future also.

While most observers understand that fish, shrimp, oysters, and clams are being threatened by the Deepwater Horizon disaster, the Renewing America's Food Traditions (RAFT) alliance is warning of longer-term impacts that affect not only the seafood industry, but farmers, market gardeners, gator hunters, crawfish harvesters, and sassafras foragers as well. Some of the rural parishes of the Gulf Coast have already lost five out of ten residents in their communities due to out-migration following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita; if the current closures of fisheries trigger further out-migration, then rare heirloom seeds, fruits, and tubers will be abandoned in gardens, orchards, and storage sheds without anyone to grow or eat them.

Hayward gave an apology but he did not give any explicit explanation and he certainly did not take responsibility on BP’s behalf for the destruction that this unmitigated disaster has and will continue to inflict.

Instead the Republican clowns were brought in. Sarah Palin led the attack shrilling that she was sure that the solution could be found by the dikes of Holland. Michelle Bachmann wailed that Obama’s fund was certainly a conspiracy to “redistribute the wealth” – BP’s wealth. Joe Barton deceptively followed through by tossing a life ring dressed as an apology to Tony Hayward.

These "look at me" gestures of the clowns which happened BEFORE Tony Hayward's testimony conveniently distracted the public from Tony Hayward's atrocious appearance. BP still has many Republican friends, and hopefully the American public won't forget this fact. BP is a failed multinational and recklessly caused a disaster of huge magnitude. This disaster can happen again, any time, and it will, unless BP and the other oil companies which are drilling offshore all over the world are forced to implement much stronger safety measures.

In addition, the world has to learn that our dependence on oil is the root of the problem. The oil companies will continue to unlock oil from remote places, regardless of the hazards involved, as long as there is enough demand.

We finish this post with a very powerful, new video by Gulf Coast native Lea Morris which has a direct message to "drill baby drill" fanatic Sarah Palin and all the BP apologists from the people who will continue to live with the disaster day by day, week by week and year by year.



Halliburton - a company for all seasons! reports how Halliburton makes money off the oil spill:

Does a company that both builds oil rigs and cleans up oil spills have any motivation to prevent oil rig disasters?

That's the question some people in business and politics are asking themselves after Halliburton's purchase of an oil clean-up company 10 days before the Deepwater Horizon explosion that killed 11 workers and launched the worst oil spill in US history.

Some observers see a conspiracy in the actions of the company once headed by Dick Cheney. Halliburton, which built the cement casing for the Deepwater Horizon's drill, announced its purchase of Houston-based oilfield services company Boots and Coots for $240 million on April 9, just 11 days before the Deepwater Horizon explosion.

According to a report at the Christian Science Monitor Friday, Boots and Coots is now under contract with BP to help with the oil spill. The company "focuses on oil spill prevention and blowout response," CSM reports. Halliburton's purchase is not yet a done deal -- it's still awaiting regulatory approval, though few observers think the purchase won't pass muster.

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