Playing the blame game
by ALLISON CRYER
While the Gulf Coast has proven it can bounce back from Hurricanes and rising floodwaters, the question remains as to whether or not the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico will recover anytime soon from a recent and “not-so natural” disaster.
The BP-Deepwater Horizon oil spill started in the summer of 2010 with an explosion that claimed the lives of 11 workers, polluted the water, devastated the wildlife, and caused unquantifiable financial losses to the businesses and industries that operate along the Gulf Coast.
To make matters worse, now the federal government and BP are pointing the finger at each other. Over two years after the spill, there is still no one is taking responsibility for the much of damage by the disaster.
BP executives are arguing that the environmental health of the Gulf Coast has been restored and no one needs to be held responsible. However, government attorneys say it is premature for BP to pass judgment on the health of the Gulf of Mexico’s ecosystem, a fact that most scientists would agree on.
The federal government wants to prove in court that BP should be held responsible for the “gross negligence” or “willful misconduct” that led to the rig explosion that caused the nation’s worst offshore oil spill. In the filing, government lawyers accuse BP executives of trying to minimize their role in the disaster and shift blame to blue-collar rig workers and their partners on the drilling project, including rig owner Transocean Ltd.
The federal government’s actions were in response to BP’s claim that the Gulf Coast’s natural resources are making a “robust recovery” from its massive oil spill. How dare the $100 billion company try to place the blame to the rig workers who lost their lives, friends and family in the explosion?
Even the Justice Department is pointing the finger at the little man, claiming that BP and Transocean rig supervisors and BP engineers could have prevented the Macondo well from blowing out if they correctly interpreted the results of a critical safety test shortly before the blast.
Shouldn’t the federal government take some of the blame here too? Where was the supervision when the safety test failed? Former BP chief executive Tony Hayward himself described the drilling in the Gulf as comparable to exploring outer space? With such a risk, design flaws and failed safety tests should have been taken more seriously by both the oil company and federal regulators.
It seems only fair that the federal government should shoulder some of the culpability for not providing proper oversight as the public had every right to expect. Both the government and BP are trying to avoid taking the blame, but somebody has to take responsibility.
This weekend, hundreds of experts will gather to discuss the state of the Gulf of Mexico at the Gulf of Mexico Fisheries Symposium in Florida. The attendees – made up of scientists, fishery experts and government officials will discuss the effects of the 2010 BP-Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Perhaps these experts will be able to shed more light on the state of conditions in the gulf today and give us some insight into whether or not the gulf is making the “robust recovery” BP executives are claiming.
But the truth is that the overall toll won’t be known for some time. And so far, no one has really been held accountable for what happened. Both the government and BP have made it clear that they are playing the blame game. The real losers here are the citizens and the business owners, who are being let down by both the government’s and the private sector’s refusal to step up to the plate and take their share of the responsibility.
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