BP exec takes 5th

Really speaks to the gullibility of the press politicians and public. BP spent several million dollars in the US, and more elsewhere, proclaiming how green BP really was, but the reality was obviously much different. BP's profits could have been reinvested in infrastructure, but obviously it is much more fun to hobnob with Diamond Dick Cheney, shooting people in the face.

The WSJ had this article yesterday:

Already under siege by American environmental regulators and financial-market investigators, BP PLC faces a new inquisitor today: Congress.

In the first of as many as two Capitol Hill appearances in coming days, U.S. operations chief Bob Malone and other BP officials face a public grilling from politicians just ahead of U.S. midterm elections. The House Energy and Commerce Committee will hear testimony from experts and BP officials on corrosion problems at BP's Alaska oil field. The London company partially shuttered the field last month after discovering corroded pipes.

The hearing comes amid a series of embarrassing regulatory, criminal and civil probes at BP. Those include an investigation into safety problems at the company's U.S. refineries and probes into whether BP traders manipulated energy markets.

While much new evidence isn't expected this week, the intensified scrutiny risks a further public-relations backlash from consumers and politicians against BP and its chief executive, John Browne. BP's profits and stock price have risen over the past two years along with higher prices for oil, natural gas and petroleum-based fuels like gasoline. At a time of widespread anger at today's gasoline prices, “BP becomes a very convenient whipping boy” for the entire oil industry, said James Post, a management professor at Boston University.

The swirl of controversy marks a major setback for Lord Browne, who crafted for BP an image based on environmental and corporate responsibility. While many environmentalists and activist investors have been satisfied that BP matched actions with words, BP is now at risk of losing that goodwill after more than a year of safety, environmental and compliance problems in the U.S.

“I think some of the sort of emotional capital that [BP] has built up will be called in” amid the public scrutiny, said John Elkington, founder of SustainAbility Ltd., a corporate-responsibility consulting firm in London.

Lord Browne isn't expected to testify in hearings scheduled for today or at a Senate hearing on Prudhoe Bay scheduled next week before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Instead, Mr. Malone, a native Texan and newly appointed chief executive of BP's American operations, will be the senior executive answering questions from lawmakers.

In March 2005, an explosion at BP's refinery in Texas City, Texas, killed 15 workers. The company was fined heavily for safety shortcomings stemming from the accident. Regulators are still poring over details of the accident, including whether senior BP executives bear more responsibility for safety shortcomings than the company has so far acknowledged.

Meanwhile, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and Justice Department allege that the company manipulated the U.S. propane market in early 2004, a charge the company denies. Investigators are also probing the company's crude-oil and gasoline-market trading activities.

And the Trib writes:

BP exec takes 5th on oil line break | Chicago Tribune
- Rep. Joe L. Barton (R-Texas) was “very concerned.”

Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) was “frustrated” and “angry,” as well as “concerned.”

And Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) was “just baffled.”

No one, in fact, said he or she was pleased Thursday as the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on oversight and investigations spent hours examining a break in one of British Petroleum's Alaska oil pipelines earlier this year.

Two congressmen who weren't even members of the subcommittee came to the cavernous hearing room in the Rayburn House Office Building to express their outrage.

And BP's executives, who traveled to Washington from Texas and Alaska, couldn't do enough to express their contrition as they earnestly described the soul-searching they've done since the break dumped more than 200,000 gallons of oil onto the Alaskan tundra in March.

The only person who did not express his concerns Thursday was the former head of BP's pipeline corrosion monitoring unit, Richard C. Woollam. He invoked his 5th Amendment rights against self-incrimination and declined to testify.

Anytime a mobster pleads the 5th...

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This page contains a single entry by swanksalot published on September 8, 2006 2:59 PM.

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