BP is more powerful than you’d think – in what other kind of investigation would the corporation be able to influence the outcome like BP is in the GOM1 spill?
Local environmental officials throughout the Gulf Coast are feverishly collecting water, sediment and marine animal tissue samples that will be used in the coming months to help track pollution levels resulting from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
Hundreds of millions of dollars are at stake, since those readings will be used by the federal government and courts to establish liability claims against BP. But the laboratory that officials have chosen to process virtually all of the samples is part of an oil and gas services company in Texas that counts oil firms, including BP, among its biggest clients.
Some people are questioning the independence of the Texas lab. Taylor Kirschenfeld, an environmental official for Escambia County, Fla., rebuffed instructions from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to send water samples to the lab, which is based at TDI-Brooks International in College Station, Tex. He opted instead to get a waiver so he could send his county’s samples to a local laboratory that is licensed to do the same tests.
Mr. Kirschenfeld said he was also troubled by another rule. Local animal rescue workers have volunteered to help treat birds affected by the slick and to collect data that would also be used to help calculate penalties for the spill. But federal officials have told the volunteers that the work must be done by a company hired by BP.
“Everywhere you look, if you look, you start seeing these conflicts of interest in how this disaster is getting handled,” Mr. Kirschenfeld said. “I’m not a conspiracy theorist, but there is just too much overlap between these people.”
(click to continue reading In Spill’s Aftermath, Conflict of Interest Worries – NYTimes.com.)
especially when you add in the successful controlling of information, both of news, and information:
As BP withholds information on impact of massive oil spill, Coast Guard says that ‘embedded’ media have been allowed to cover response effort
As oil from the massive BP spill in the Gulf of Mexico approached the US coastline, a CBS News crew was threatened by the US Coast Guard with arrest if they attempted to film a beach in South Pass, Louisiana.
“When we tried to reach the beach … a boat of BP contractors with two Coast Guard officers on board told us to turn around under threat of arrest,” CBS’s Kelly Cobiella reported on Tuesday.
“This is BP’s rules, it’s not ours,” an officer can be seen calling from the other boat in the CBS video.
(click to continue reading After blocking CBS crew, Coast Guard denies ‘BP rules’ | Raw Story.)
BP, the company in charge of the rig that exploded last month in the Gulf of Mexico, hasn’t publicly divulged the results of tests on the extent of workers’ exposure to evaporating oil or from the burning of crude over the gulf, even though researchers say that data is crucial in determining whether the conditions are safe.
Moreover, the company isn’t monitoring the extent of the spill and only reluctantly released videos of the spill site that could give scientists a clue to the amount of the oil in gulf.
BP’s role as the primary source of information has raised questions about whether the government should intervene to gather such data and to publicize it and whether an adequate cleanup can be accomplished without the details of crude oil spreading across the gulf.
(click to continue reading BP withholds oil spill facts — and government lets it | McClatchy.)
or of scientific measurements of the oil flow volume
Despite scientists’ growing skepticism about the accuracy of those measurements, the government has stuck with its 5,000-barrels-a-day estimate. It has not pressed BP for better measurements, and when asked about video footage, has deferred to BP. From ABC News:
Asked if the White House could compel the company to release the video, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Tuesday the decision rests with BP, which controls the tapes. When Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-California) pressed a top BP executive on the question during congressional hearings Tuesday, she was told the videos are under joint government and industry control at the incident command center in New Orleans, where they are teaming up to orchestrate the spill response.
McClatchy reported that when the Occupational Safety and Health Administration was asked about air sampling data that BP has shared with the agency, an OSHA official again deferred to BP:
“It is not ours to publish,” said Dean Wingo, OSHA’s assistant regional administrator who oversees Louisiana. “We are working with (BP) and encouraging them to post the data so that it is publicly available.”
In one case, a federal agency leveled pointed criticism at the press for reporting on the spread of oil. After independent scientists discovered giant plumes of dispersed oil forming in the deep waters of the Gulf and heading toward the Gulf loop current, a spokeswoman from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration criticized media reports about plumes, calling them “misleading, premature and, in some cases, inaccurate.”
According to the Huffington Post’s Dan Froomkin, NOAA—the agency whose job it is to monitor and keep data on the oceans—“currently does not have a single research vessel taking measurements below.”
(click to continue reading While BP’s Oil Gushes, Company Keeps Information to a Trickle – ProPublica.)
Simply amazing. There really are two tiers of law in the US: big corporations, and the rest of us. Big corporations get all sorts of “winks and nods”, as they repeatedly evade responsibility for their actions, merrily paying lobbyists to legally bribe Congress with campaign donations.Footnotes:
- Gulf of Mexico [↩]