A DbC Apology

oiled bird I apologize to DbC readers. At the height of the Macondo Prospect blowout in the Gulf of Mexico, I said the following about the idea that President Zerobama would start listening to sanity about energy and ecology. “Nothing,” I then predicted, “could be more threatening to the continuance of corporate capitalism. There will be much hand-wringing, a few monkey trials, and another toughening of the regulations. Then deep-water drilling will resume in full. Nothing else is possible, barring a major social upheaval.”

Mea culpa: There have been neither monkey trials nor major new rules. And the partial pause lasted 15, not 6, months. Until yesterday, when the pre-Horizon Deepwater course was re-adopted:

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration on Tuesday announced its proposed five-year plan for offshore oil drilling, which calls for opening new areas in the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska.

MSNBC reports:

The sales off Alaska, where native groups and environmentalists have objected to drilling, would be the first since 2008. And they would [include the] Chukchi and Beaufort Seas, which Interior officials called a “frontier” for drilling.

In the western and central Gulf,…the proposal puts all unleased acreage up for sale.

By the way, the semi-major social upheaval going on has been essentially silent about energy and ecology.

Green Naivete

zero Remember this? “President Obama is expected to deliver a speech on oil and energy issues on April 20, the anniversary of the 2010 Gulf Oil Spill,” so let’s petition him to mention Peak Oil!

What’d we get?

Peak Oil was certainly not mentioned, and neither was the anniversary of the oil rig explosion — because there was no speech!

There were, however, these 3 powerful and impassioned paragraphs in a press release.

Correction: Hayward Likely a Criminal

guilty tony hayward Yesterday, I called Tony Hayward a mere git.  And, until today, I have been skeptical about calls for criminal charges against BP.  I had seen that as a way to isolate BP and treat it as a mere bad apple, all in an effort to deny that great ecological danger is inherent in deep-water oil drilling and the cars-first transportation schemes that make it necessary.

Well, while that will almost certainly still be the end result, it turns out that Tony Hayward probably is in fact a major corporate criminal, a personage who knowingly exceeded the legally permissible bounds of businesslike destruction-for-money.

Turns out Hayward cashed in a big chunk of his BP stock in late March of this year, and used the proceeds to pay off the mortgage on his mansion in Kent.

The Tory broadsheet that broke this story interjects, of course, that “There is no suggestion that he acted improperly or had prior knowledge that the company was to face the biggest setback in its history.”

Well, ahem, let me suggest exactly that:

Reporting its analysis of internal BP documents it obtained from “a Congressional investigator,” The New York Times said this on May 29:

Internal documents from BP show that there were serious problems and safety concerns with the Deepwater Horizon rig far earlier than those the company described to Congress last week.

On June 22 [of 2009], for example, BP engineers expressed concerns that the metal casing the company wanted to use might collapse under high pressure.

“This would certainly be a worst-case scenario,” Mark E. Hafle, a senior drilling engineer at BP, warned in an internal report. “However, I have seen it happen so know it can occur.”

The company went ahead with the casing, but only after getting special permission from BP colleagues because it violated the company’s safety policies and design standards. The internal reports do not explain why the company allowed for an exception. BP documents released last week to The Times revealed that company officials knew the casing was the riskier of two options.

And here’s the probable smoking gun:

The documents show that in March, after several weeks of problems on the rig, BP was struggling with a loss of “well control.”

The Times story doesn’t say when “in March” this struggle was on BP’s agenda.

But a criminal prosecutor might find a lead worth exploring there, no?

No wonder old Tony has been acting so squirrely and blurting about “wanting his life back.”  Methinks the git doth protest too much.

Here Come the Poses

money justice The other day, I said that the Deepwater Horizon blowout would lead to six months of scapegoating and posturing about “our concern,” then yield to a renewal of deep-water oil drilling.

Yesterday, President No-Change passively admitted the same:

We owe all those who’ve been harmed, as well as future generations, a full and vigorous accounting of the events that led to what has now become the worst oil spill in U.S. history. Only then can we be assured that deepwater drilling can take place safely. Only then can we accept further development of these resources as we transition to a clean energy economy.

Clearly, the verdict has already been reached, before the monkey trial even starts.  “Let us collect the testimony, then find ourselves assured of the necessity of what’s going to be done, regardless of the facts.”

This is called softening up the rubes, in the game of corporate-sponsored politics.

As always, it is going to take a major social movement to stop this heedless overclass of ours. Like their predecessors, they have lost all capacity for self-reform.  Obama is 100 percent part of the problem.