BP’s spectacular futzuppery throughout every moment of the Gulf crisis had become the stuff of legend. Horrible, cataclysmic, environmental legend. The degree of criminal ineptitude, the callous disregard for entire ecosystems and human life, as well as the failed handling of every aspect of BP’s “response” is hard to quantify. Much like the amount of oil spewing from the underwater oil geyser that the company unearthed.
There are 5,000 barrels of oil gushing per day—no wait, make that 10,000. I mean 12,000. That’s wrong, it’s more like 15,000. Hang on, multiply the first number by 2. No, I mean, 6. Make that 12. To be precise, the daily amount of oil furiously pushing up from the Gulf seabed is in the neighborhood of HolyChristAlmightyThisIsn’tReallyHappening. Give or take a few thousand barrels.
We’re in week eight of the worst environmental disaster in US history. BP’s response? It has thrown golf balls at the oil. It’s tossed garbage at it. It’s circled ships around the general vicinity of the underwater oil volcano—not in any manner that’s made a lick of difference in stopping the mad, underwater crude flow, mind you—but, hey, those ships are out there. It started a blog that's all about how they're going to "Make It Right." It told the public that it wasn’t a big spill, that there wasn’t a plume of any sort and that, at the end of the day, that oily vomiting gash in the ocean’s floor wouldn’t affect much of anything. The ocean, you see, is a very big place.
In recent days, we’ve learned about BP’s cutting of corners, the neglected safety measures and the permitted lapses that could very well have prevented this “nightmare” drill site from becoming the environmental nightmare that it is today.
But this horrific disaster is but an aberration, according to the oil patch fat cats who descended upon Washington D.C today to point fingers at BP and tsk tsk their way out of having their operations watched or regulated. Safeguards are in place, they told a Congressional panel. The need only be followed and that unfortunate bit of business that befell BP’s oil rig would be avoided, they assured.
Thing is, those so-called safeguards that the industry puts in place on paper are identical. One Congressman read each company’s plan prior to today’s hearing and noticed that they even use the same wording. Why? Because they’re all outsourced: The paper safeguards are scribbled down by some paper-pushing firm who Xeroxes the “safety plan” and mails them en masse to oil companies, which in turn put those “plans” to use. As paperweights. Or doorstops, I’m not sure which. From what I’ve read, they probably aren’t even good for such pedestrian tasks.
One thing is certain, those plans aren’t much use in preventing the kind of widespread devastation that we’re seeing down in the Gulf. Sadly, we have proof of that.
For this post’s kicker, I defer to Aziz Ansari’s recent performance.