Spill shows evil of oil dependency

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By Rick Howell

    It’s not a secret that corporations are greedy, often contemptuous of workers, and always, always put profits before anything else. That’s nothing new. But the BP oil spill is a corporate crime that has no match anywhere else in the world.

    It sure has mowed down the logic behind the “drill, baby, drill” mentality that so many conservative Republicans think is cute. Remember Jim Gilmore’s pathetic campaign for Senate in 2008, when he used a “drill now” slogan? Maybe Gilmore ought to be out there helping BP figure this out.

    Because, so far, the company can’t seem to do that. As this was written, a containment cap had finally been placed on the pipe, and BP was hoping it would work. That would make about the fourth or fifth scheme it had tried to stop the flow of oil, none of which had succeeded.

    First, it’s not possible yet to really judge the total damage to both the economies of the areas affected and the wildlife so essential to the ecosystems of the Gulf. Oil had finally started to creep even onto the Florida coast.

    All the while, BP’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Tony Hayward, distinguished himself with a string of outrageous and irresponsible remarks. “I want my life back,” he whined at one point, apparently oblivious to the economic and animal lives lost by his company’s irresponsible actions.

    He continued to deny that it was even possible that underwater plumes of oil could be created by the spill, even as proof of those plumes were obvious to everyone else. But, hey, he’s a corporate CEO, and the rules are different for those people. He made more than $4 million last year. Surely that speaks for itself, doesn’t it?

    Actually, he should be fired. Or perhaps fired and then put on trial. But, again, many another CEO - highly overpaid and vastly under worked - has run their company into the ground only to walk away with a “severance package” that has them set for life.

    In Hayward’s situation, like that of the wildlife and the related economies of the Gulf, the damage is ongoing. BP does seem to be making some minimal effort to clean up what it spilled, but it’s very minimal, indeed. And it’s telling, isn’t it, that anyone who works for the company in a “clean-up” role has orders not to speak to the press?

    Then there’s President Obama, who warned from the start how bad this could be, but may have been somewhat slow to take action. But let’s be clear about one thing: that’s BP’s oil that is ruining the gulf. It’s not owned by either the president or the American people. The first and chief responsibility to clean it up lies with the company that spilled it.

    No, this is not “Obama’s Katrina.” That was a natural disaster where people always expect governments, local, state and federal, to take the lead. The oil spill in the gulf was preventable, though caused by a tragic accident. But surely BP and other oil companies must have contingency plans in effect just for such a situation. Apparently, BP didn’t.

    What other lessons must we learn before we realize that our dependency on oil, foreign or otherwise, must come to an end? Oil and coal must both be relegated to the past. The sooner we make a real start at that, the better off we’ll be. Meanwhile, it’s painful to watch what’s happening in the Gulf. The letters “BP” will be forever infamous.

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Rick Howell, a Bedford native, can be reached by e-mail at NewCenHowell@aol.com.