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Spill, Baby, Spill: Christine Whitman, Tom Daschle & Leon Panetta got on BP's payroll in 2007

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Better Believe It Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-02-10 10:51 PM
Original message
Spill, Baby, Spill: Christine Whitman, Tom Daschle & Leon Panetta got on BP's payroll in 2007
Edited on Sun May-02-10 10:58 PM by Better Believe It
They went to work for BP in 2007 as advisors. They are shocked and surprised by the offshore oil rig explosion. After all, they were certainly impressed by BP's sterling safety record. And the company CEO flew them out over the Gulf of Mexico on a helicopter in 2008 to demonstrate the oil giants safeguards.

What in the world could ever suggest to Whitman, Daschle and Panetta that BP had major safety problems? They obviously never read or heard anything negative about BP's safety record in the mass media. And how in the world would they find the time to read that stuff? They were far too busy taking helicopter trips and counting their money from BP. BBI

Spill, Baby, Spill
By Michael Isikoff, Ian Yarett and Matthew Philips | NEWSWEEK
From the magazine issue dated May 10, 2010

BP has been trying hard to burnish its public image in recent years after being hit with a pair of environmental disasters, including a fatal refinery explosion in Texas and a pipeline leak in Alaska. One major step was to announce, in 2007, that it had hired a high-powered advisory board that included former EPA director Christine Todd Whitman, former Senate majority leader Tom Daschle, and Leon Panetta, who were each paid $120,000 a year. (Panetta left when he became President Obama's CIA director.) Two years ago the oil giant's chief executive, Robert Malone, flew board members out to the Gulf of Mexico on a helicopter to demonstrate the safeguards surrounding BP's advanced drilling technology. "We got a sense they were really committed to ensuring they got it right," Whitman told NEWSWEEK.

Now BP, formerly known as British Petroleum, finds itself blamed for what could prove to be the worst oil spill in U.S. history. And only weeks after Obama announced an ambitious plan to open up more U.S. offshore waters to oil drilling, shunting aside environmental concerns from his own Democratic Party, his administration is facing a comeuppance from hell. "There was a lot of wishful thinking, I guess," says Villy Kourafalou, a scientist at the University of Miami's Rosensteil School of Marine and Atmospheric Science. "The new technologies were said to be so wonderful that we'd never have an oil spill again." Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), who had sought to block the expanded drilling, says the oil and gas industry was pushing this idea hard. "They said, 'We'll never have a repeat of Santa Barbara,'?" referring to the 1969 rig explosion off the California coast. Both the Bush and Obama administrations "were buying the line that the technology was fine," Pallone adds.

BP pressed hard to make that point in D.C. Its PR efforts included payments of $16 million last year to a battery of Washington lobbyists, among them the firm of Tony Podesta, the brother of former Obama transition chief John Podesta. Last fall, after the U.S. Interior Department proposed tighter federal regulation of oil companies' environmental programs, David Rainey, BP's vice president for Gulf of Mexico exploration, told Congress that the proposal was unnecessary. "I think we need to remember," he said, that offshore drilling "has been going on for the last 50 years, and it has been going on in a way that is both safe and protective of the environment."

Read the full article at:


March 2005 Texas City Refinery disaster

Main article: Texas City Refinery (BP)
One of BP's largest refineries in the USA exploded in 2005 causing 15 deaths. The fall-out from the accident continues to cloud BP's corporate image because of the mismanagement at the plant. There have been several investigations of the disaster, the most recent being that from the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board. It was preceded by the Baker report and BP's own internal investigation.

A large column filled with hydrocarbon overflowed to form a vapour cloud, which ignited. The explosion caused all the casualties and substantial damage to the rest of the plant. The incident came as the culmination of a series of less serious accidents at the refinery, and the engineering problems were not addressed by the management. Maintenance and safety at the plant had been cut as a cost-saving measure, the responsibility ultimately resting with executives in London.

On 30 October 2009 the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) imposed an $87 million fine on the company for failing to correct safety hazards revealed in the 2005 explosion. The fine was the largest in OSHA's history.

Errors led to BP refinery blast
May 17, 2005

BP has accepted responsibility for a "series of failures" by staff which it said led to the fatal explosion at its largest US refinery in March.
The blast and subsequent fire at the Texas City refinery near Houston claimed 15 lives and injured 170.

An interim report into the tragedy has found that failure to follow the proper procedures and poor supervision at the plant contributed to the explosion.

BP said it would discipline staff found to have made mistakes.

Proper procedures were not followed before the explosion


Oil Gushes into Arctic Ocean from BP Pipeline
by Leonard Doyle
March 21, 2006

Across the frozen North Slope of Alaska, the region's largest oil accident on record has been sending hundreds of thousands of litres of crude pouring into the Arctic Ocean during the past week after a badly corroded BPO pipeline ruptured.

The publicity caused by the leak in the the 30-year-old pipeline could seriously damage BP's image, which has been carefully crafted to show it as a company concerned about the environment. Unlike other major oil companies, BP boasts that it is fully signed up to the dangers of global warming and it makes a conspicuous effort to flaunt its green credentials, tackling local environmental problems and erecting wind turbines above its petrol stations.

Clean-up crews have removed more than 190,000 litres of crude oil and melted snow off the frozen tundra but reports indicate that the leak is the second largest crude oil spill in Alaska - second only to the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster.

Exploration Alaska, the BP subsidiary that operates the pipeline from which more than 910,000 litres of oil has leaked, has recently been fined more than $1.2m (635,000) for its poor environmental safety record.

The company has now been told it cannot restart pumping oil until it the entire pipeline has been inspected and repaired. Employees claim that they repeatedly warned that money-saving cutbacks in routine maintenance and inspection had dramatically increased the chances of accidents or spills.

"For years we've been warning the company about cutting back on maintenance," Marc Kovac, a union official told the New York Times. "We know that this could have been prevented." In the interview, Marc Kovac, an official of the United Steelworkers union which represents workers at the BP facility, said he had seen little change in BP Exploration Alaska's approach despite the warnings.

In an e-mail to a company lawyer in June 2004, Mr Kovac forwarded a collection of his earlier complaints to management. One of these, dated 28 February 2003, concerned "corrosion monitoring staffing levels". It began, "The corrosion monitoring crew will soon be reduced to six staff down from eight." It added: "With the present staff, the crew is currently one month behind. The backlog is expected to increase with a further reduction in manpower."

The Prudhoe Bay oil field spill on Alaska's North Slope is seen on Monday, March 13, 2006. Cleaning up the spill estimated at up to 267,000 gallons in the Prudhoe Bay oil field has been slow going because workers are having to take frequent breaks to protect themselves against extreme conditions.


BP shuts leaking Alaskan wells
By Mark Tran
July 19, 2006

BP's image today suffered another blow as the British oil giant closed the last 12 of 57 oil wells in Alaska that had been leaking.

The closures, mostly in Prudhoe Bay, followed daily inspections. The wells themselves were not leaking but insulating agents - similar to car anti-freeze - between the wells and the ice were. Called arctic packs, the insulating material consists of crude oil or diesel fuel.

This is the latest blow for BP, which prides itself on its environmentally friendly policies. The company last month admitted it was facing a criminal inquiry into a massive oil spill in Alaska.

The spill followed a rupture of a corroded oil pipeline at the Prudhoe Bay field, spilling at least 200,000 gallons of crude oil in March, the largest ever in Alaska's North Slope region.

Following the incident, BP received a subpoena on April 26 from a federal grand jury in Alaska but only revealed the investigation, which could lead to prison sentences, after an internal email was leaked to journalists.


August 2006 Prudhoe Bay Shutdown

In August, 2006, BP shut down oil operations in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, due to corrosion in pipelines leading up to the Alaska Pipeline. BP had spilled over one million litres of oil in Alaska's North Slope.<44> This corrosion is caused by sediment collecting in the bottom of the pipe, protecting corrosive bacteria from chemicals sent through the pipeline to fight this bacteria. There are estimates that about 5,000 barrels (790 m3) of oil were released from the pipeline. To date 1,513 barrels (240.5 m3) of liquids, about 5,200 cubic yards (4,000 m3) of soiled snow and 328 cubic yards (251 m3) of soiled gravel have been recovered. After approval from the DOT, only the eastern portion of the field was shut down, resulting in a reduction of 200,000 barrels per day (32,000 m3/d) until work began to bring the eastern field to full production on 2 October 2006.<45> In May 2007, the company announced another partial field shutdown owing to leaks of water at a separation plant. Their action was interpreted as another example of fallout from a decision to cut maintenance of the pipeline and associated facilities.


October 2007 Prudhoe Bay spill

On 16 October 2007 Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation officials reported a toxic spill of methanol (methyl alcohol) at the Prudhoe Bay oil field managed by BP PLC. Nearly 2,000 gallons of mostly methanol, mixed with some crude oil and water, spilled onto a frozen tundra pond as well as a gravel pad from a pipeline. Methanol, which is poisonous to plants and animals, is used to clear ice from the insides of the Arctic-based pipelines.

Now who would have thunk BP would cause a major environmental disaster at one of their oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico? BBI

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dixiegrrrrl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-02-10 11:28 PM
Response to Original message
1. Plus this:
THIS MARCH OSHA proposed more than $3 million in fines to the BP-Husky refinery near Toledo, Ohio.
OSHA found 42 alleged willful violations, including 39 on a per-instance basis, and 20 alleged serious violations for exposing workers to a variety of hazards including failure to provide adequate pressure relief for process units. Proposed penalties total $3,042,000.

"OSHA has found that BP often ignored or severely delayed fixing known hazards in its refineries," said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. "There is no excuse for taking chances with people's lives. BP must fix the hazards now."


Deepwater Horizon rig had history of spills, fires before big Gulf of Mexico oil spill
By The Associated Press
April 30, 2010, 5:56PM

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Better Believe It Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon May-03-10 08:04 AM
Response to Reply #1
4. Who would have thunk.
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tblue Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-02-10 11:35 PM
Response to Original message
2. The list of people I don't hate grows shorter by the minute.
Our party is 75% corrupt, according to RFK, Jr. (Repubs, he said, are 100%.) I don't know where to turn now. I'm like the boll weevil: Just a-lookin' for a home.
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Enthusiast Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon May-03-10 11:14 AM
Response to Reply #2
10. There is no question
that both parties are corrupt. I want to support honest Democrats whenever I can. But we can't accept their words we must judge their actions. Republicans are completely without merit.
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kentuck Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-02-10 11:40 PM
Response to Original message
3. There something very wrong when former Congressmen...
and some present Congressmen lobby for any big business, especially Big Oil or the Big Banks. There should be a statute or a downright prohibition for Congressmen working with the people that laws are being made to regulate, for the good of the people.
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Better Believe It Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon May-03-10 08:28 AM
Response to Original message
5. BP Enjoys Lobbying Strength, Close Ties to Lawmakers as Federal Investigation Looms

BP Enjoys Lobbying Strength, Close Ties to Lawmakers as Federal Investigation Looms
By Cassandra LaRussa
April 30, 2010

If BP faces heavy federal scrutiny, it's well-positioned to fight back: The London-based company has consistently spent top dollar to influence legislative and regulatory activity in Washington, D.C., the Center for Responsive Politics finds.

During the 2008 election cycle, individuals and political action committees associated with BP -- a Center for Responsive Politics' "heavy hitter" -- contributed half a million dollars to federal candidates. About 40 percent of these donations went to Democrats. The top recipient of BP-related donations during the 2008 cycle was President Barack Obama himself, who collected $71,000.

BP regularly lobbies on Capitol Hill, as well. In 2009, the company spent a massive $16 million to influence legislation. During the first quarter of 2010, it spent $3.53 million on federal lobbying efforts, ranking it second (behind ConocoPhillips) among all oil and gas industry interests.

Its registered lobbyists include a number of former federal government and high-ranking political campaign officials, including longtime political operative Tony Podesta, former congressional chief of staff Bob Brooks, former congressional legislative director David Pore and vice presidential aide Michael S. Berman, the Center's research shows.

Read the full article at:
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NCarolinawoman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon May-03-10 08:53 AM
Response to Original message
6. Thanks for the information.
When I gave this a recommend, the numbers didn't budge--stayed at 4 instead of going to 5.

Am I to conclude we have some "drill baby drill" people here at DU, un-recommending this? Perhaps some oil lobbyists are registered here?

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rbixby Donating Member (716 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon May-03-10 09:23 AM
Response to Original message
7. Deregulation at its finest
"The oil industry can totally ensure its own safety without a bunch of government regulators slowing down progress!" I call bullshit on that.
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chill_wind Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon May-03-10 10:14 AM
Response to Original message
8. K & R. n/t
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Echo In Light Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon May-03-10 10:19 AM
Response to Original message
9. K/R
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