The BP Oil Spill – Corporate Profits More Poisonous than Oil

The oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico continues to pour thousands and perhaps millions of gallons of oil into the waters of the Gulf. Almost as disgusting as this toxic destruction are the actions of the corporations and the Obama administration in the last weeks.  While the worst oil disaster in history is happening they have done nothing but protect themselves, withhold information, and do the minimum to deal with the problem. The oil-spill has exposed the priorities of the big-oil corporations and the government which protects their interests.

Last week, a panel of scientists announced that as much as 2.5 million gallons of oil per day could be leaking into the Gulf. But immediately after the oil leak began, BP claimed that only 1,000 to 5,000 barrels of oil per day were leaking into the water. This estimate was raised after an engineering professor painstakingly analyzed the fuzzy video of the leak released by BP. His efforts proved that the real number was at least 56,000 to 84,000 barrels a day. Did BP know about the real extent of the disaster? Yes! Later they released a high-quality video clearly showing the extent of the leak – which they had withheld to protect themselves.

The Obama administration has worked hard to protect the interests of BP and other oil companies. The Obama administration tried at first to cover up the extent of the spill. They parroted BP’s estimates that the oil-well was only leaking a few thousand barrels per day. Obama declared a national emergency only when BP admitted that the leak was much bigger. Then the state of emergency was used to control important information. When the Army Corps of Engineers requested satellite footage of the leak it was denied for security reasons. The size of the ten-mile wide spill was only revealed when National Geographic used its own satellite footage.

Despite the recent tough-sounding accusations of the Obama administration, BP is still being protected. The administration recently reached an agreement with BP, in which they promised to pay $20 billion for clean-up and damages. This is nothing compared to the estimated one trillion dollar cost of the disaster. It would only be a mild inconvenience for BP’s profits. BP’s total revenues last year totaled almost a quarter of a trillion dollars! Just last month they were prepared to pay out $10 billion in dividends to their stock holders.

Obama’s support for BP is no accident. In the last two years BP has made $3.5 million in campaign contributions to federal-level elections. Most of this went to the Obama campaign. Since the leak began, investigations have shown that the Obama administration allowed BP and other oil companies to slide on safety and environmental check-ups. Meanwhile, just weeks before the spill, Obama proposed opening the coast to greater off-shore drilling.

One of the most disgusting details to emerge recently is the fact that some of the same people who profited from oil-drilling in the Gulf will also profit from cleaning it up. Halliburton, the company of former Vice-President Dick Cheney, was responsible for building the cement casings for the oil-well that exploded. Their poor cement casing is one of the potential causes of the blow-out. They should be under investigation for risking people’s lives and destroying the Gulf. Instead, guess who’s being paid part of that $20 billion? Halliburton! Their subsidiary company Boots and Coots specializes in blow-outs and cleaning up oil spills. They’ve been contracted to clean-up a spill they helped cause!

There are more than 6,000 other oil-rigs drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, and 30,000 around the country. Each of these is a billion-dollar profit making disaster waiting to happen. They all use the same techniques, cut the same corners, and risk our lives the same as BP. Why are they off the hook? All their resources should go immediately to Gulf cleanup! The system of poisonous profit protected by the government has gone on long enough.