Greer McVay’s Web Log (BLOG)
Volume 1, Issue 11
May 24, 2010
Eureka, I have a solution!
I don’t know why it took me this long to come up with such a simple plan to resolve the British Petroleum Gulf Oil leak/spill/explosion/eruption/volcano–or whatever you want to call it. More importantly, I don’t know why no one else has proposed this either. In response to the off-shore rig explosion, sinking and subsequent out-of-control oil gusher, BP should be prevented from operating until the problem is resolved. Period. That’s pretty easy to understand even for the most loyal oil shill out there. They created a problem and unfortunately their best efforts aren’t fixing the problem. So I propose that until they fix this mess they don’t get to do anything else within the United States.
That’s right. BP should be forced to use every single employee, scientist, dollar and piece of equipment to resolve the leaking of over 6,000 barrels per day. We keep hearing that they are 100% responsible for the cleanup and that they are doing everything possible. Yet, the problem has only gotten worse because the oil now has reached shore.
It was reported that the company initially offered minimal payments to local fishermen to help with the cleanup. The money was offered on condition of signing away future rights to litigate. Hmmm! You take a group of people whose livelihoods are in serious jeopardy and you give them a desperate choice: Sign away your life or get nothing. These locals have a vested interest in addressing the crisis, but they cannot work until the crisis ends. However, BP is still able to work and make record profits even through this fiasco. Really?!?
Ceasing US operations of BP wouldn’t be simple, but it would send the message that you may not do business recklessly in this country and then take your money and run. Perhaps if their 29,000 US employees feared losing their jobs like those whose lives depend upon commerce generated by the Gulf of Mexico, there would be some motivation to find a solution that doesn’t include making the ocean’s floor the new landfill destination or counteracting the oil with equal parts Palmolive. Next, they’ll propose using a tangy Balsamic vinegar and sourdough baguettes to sop up the mess. This, by the way, couldn’t be any worse then all their previous prophylactic solutions.
A few benefits of my solution come to mind; let’s just think of how this would play itself out:
All resources go toward solving this problem. BP earns in excess of $800M per day which means their global operations are too complex for them to focus. Eliminating distraction would give them the time and manpower necessary to really address this problem thoroughly. If they had nothing else to do for awhile, I suspect they could put their best and brightest to work in a much more useful manner.
With a looming threat of re-regulation (or actual enforcement of existing regulation), BP and other would-be drillers might not be sufficiently intimidated by the potential $75M cap on damages as a result of their negligence or malfeasance. Are you kidding me? BP earned about $75B in Q1 2010. That proposed penalty would just be considered a one day business expense. Losing all income until they fix the problem would give them incentive to stop making excuses and start delivering results.
Fairness should be implemented in the highest echelons. The reality of this situation is not too complicated. I am unable to drive drunk, kill a pedestrian and then continue to drive until and unless I have sufficiently resolved the matter of my DUI. Resolution, in this example, might include restitution, community service, incarceration, and (hopefully) a healthy dose of contriteness and remorse. BP has demonstrated for 34 consecutive days that they are unable to safely operate in a way they promised they would and until they can prove that they can, they should be prevented from further operation.
BP might actually lose some profits in the short run. While it sounds extreme, we can’t believe that a company that has earned hundreds of billions (if not trillions) of dollars can’t withstand “a number of days of loss of income.” Go ask any of the millions of people currently receiving unemployment insurance how they manage with “a number of days of loss of income.” Kentucky Senator Jim Bunning and many of his cohorts in congress seem to feel that it’s ok to delay or eliminate financial assistance to middle America to help bridge the gap while looking for work, so surely they would vote for this punitive measure against BP and any oil-drilling successors. These companies show us where their allegiances are by using their profits in ways that hurt us all either environmentally or at the pump. This leads me to the next byproduct of my proposal…
Punitive action against BP. Evidence exists that indicates BP was negligent in their operations on their Deepwater Horizon oil rig, in part because they were out of compliance with federal law and they were drilling at a depth outside of what was permissible. The initial accident caused a loss of 11 human lives followed by destruction of hundreds of miles of shoreline and wildlife. Their actions were negligent and arguably criminal. For myriad reasons, not the least of which is their continued misrepresentation of the nature and extent of the damages, they should be met with more than an obligatory slap on the wrist. In an effort to determine accountability and glean information, Congress recently held hearings about the activities leading up to and on that fateful day when the rig exploded and subsequently sank. Those hearings were a travesty of monumental proportions culminating in the trifecta of corporate finger pointing amongst BP, Halliburton and Transocean. The bottom line: the suffering as a result of this accident is measurable so the problem needs to be fixed now, and they all have a role in this process.
No longer too big to fail. Perhaps losing nearly a billion dollars a day will force BP to consider restructuring their business model and removing the portions of their operations that they cannot control. Clearly, drilling holes into the earth more than 2,000 feet below the ocean’s surface is a business practice that BP, and no other company, can control; therefore, they should stop. But in the meantime, they should focus on one thing and one thing only–stop the gushing oil.