My column from the June 17 issue of Ottawa Delivered:
As tempting as it has been to pick the low-hanging fruit and write a column blasting the ineptitude of BP, I thus far have resisted.
But after hearing about those Louisiana walruses and Gulf Coast seals Tuesday morning, I no longer can help myself.
In case you haven’t heard, the oil spill response plans of BP, Chevron, Shell, ConocoPhillips and ExxonMobil apparently are eerily similar – right down to including how they would deal with the wildlife that might be affected by an oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, including seals, sea lions, sea otters and walruses.
Goo goo g’joob. Which, in this case, roughly translates to, “Good God, you boobs!”
Too harsh? I don’t think so. Actually, I’d like to extend the insult to whatever federal officials allowed such emergency contingency plans to be filed. None of those animals can be found anywhere near the Gulf of Mexico, which means whoever created those plans didn’t pay much attention to detail. And if they didn’t pay much attention to detail … well, you get the idea. We get an oil spill situation that worsens exponentially by the day.
But don’t you worry, BP has a solid plan for dealing with the media after a disaster. According to ABC News, BP’s oil spill response plan has 40 pages devoted to dealing with the media, but only nine pages are dedicated to how the company would actually clean up an oil spill.
In other words, BP was four times more prepared to deal with the media than the actual oil spill itself. That would explain why the oil company continually stumbled while searching for a way to effectively deal with the oil spill, yet was more than ready to spend $70 million on advertisements promoting tourism in the Gulf states negatively affected by the oil spill. BP had a CYA plan ready to go on day one.
Meanwhile, back in the bayou, the oil menace continues to grow worse. Louisiana’s biologically diverse wetlands system is in peril, with the oil spill looming like a waterbound version of a dark thunderstorm cloud hanging overhead. And it’s even worse for the commercial fishermen and other people whose livings depend on the Gulf not being irreparably ruined by oil. Those people are out of jobs and can only watch helplessly as their livelihoods are dealt continual blows.
And the danger is about to get a lot worse as hurricane season begins. Imagine a powerful hurricane flinging all that oil all over the Gulf states. I imagine the potential poisoning of air and drinking water is a more troublesome worry than any physical damage that could take place.
These are the things that must be kept in mind by President Obama, the oil executives and everyone else involved in the cleanup efforts. These are the reasons why the American people are anxious to see this problem fixed.
Right now, we don’t care whose fault it is as much as we just want the problem solved.