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PORTSIDE  April 2011, Week 3

PORTSIDE April 2011, Week 3

Subject:

10 Reasons to Still Be Pissed Off About the BP Disaster

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Date:

Wed, 20 Apr 2011 22:26:11 -0400

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text/plain (138 lines)

10 Reasons to Still Be Pissed Off About the BP Disaster

Your guide to the worst oil spill in US history, one year
later.

-- By Kate Sheppard

Tue Apr. 19, 2011 12:01 AM PDT
http://motherjones.com/environment/2011/04/bp-anniversary-top-ten


1. BP is gunning to get back to drilling in the Gulf of
Mexico. When the Department of Interior issued its first
deepwater permit since the Deepwater Horizon disaster, it
was for a well that BP owns half of. Earlier this month,
company officials also announced that they are seeking an
agreement with the US government to resume drilling at
their 10 deepwater wells in the Gulf this July, arguing
that they will follow tougher safety rules, the New York
Times reported earlier this month. This comes even as the
government is said to be considering manslaughter charges
against the oil giant for the deaths of 11 workers last
year.

2. People are sick. Nearly three-quarters of Gulf coast
residents that the Louisiana Bucket Brigade, an
environmental justice group, polled this year reported
health concerns that they believe are related to the
spill. Of the 954 residents in seven coastal communities,
almost half said they had experienced health problems like
coughing, skin and eye irritation, or headaches that are
consistent with common symptoms of chemical exposure.
While the National Institute for Occupational Safety and
Health (NIOSH) is conducting health monitoring for spill
cleanup workers, residents in the areas closest to the
spill are concerned that their own health problems have
gone unattended.

3. Fish and other sea life in the Gulf are still
struggling after the disaster. The death toll for dolphins
and whales in the Gulf may have been 50 times higher than
the number of bodies found, according to a recent paper in
Conservation Letters. Earlier this year, a large number of
dead dolphin calves were found on the coast, and
scientists have linked many of those deaths to the oil
disaster. Anglers are also reporting dark lesions, rotting
fins, and discoloration in the fish they're catching in
the Gulf, as the St. Petersburg Times reported last week.

4. While those most affected by the spill are still
waiting for payments, some state and local officials have
been making bank off the disaster. As the Associated Press
reported recently, some local governments have been using
the $754 million from BP to buy iPads, SUVs, and laptops.
Meanwhile, BP just gave another $30 million to Florida to
help entice tourists onto its beaches this summer.

5. Congress hasn't changed a single law on oil and gas
drilling in the past year. A year later, the liability cap
for companies that cause a major spill is still just $75
million, companies with dismal safety records can still
obtain new leases, and they can still avoid compensating
families when workers die on rigs. In January, the
National Oil Spill Commission released 300 pages of
findings and recommendations that Congress has largely
ignored.

6. GOP House members want more drilling off all our coasts
with less environmental review. The Natural Resources
Committee is considering a trio of bills that would open
new areas for drilling in the Atlantic, Pacific, and
Arctic oceans for drilling, speed up the process of
approving permits, and force the Department of Interior to
move forward with lease sales in the central Gulf of
Mexico and off the coast of Virginia without further
environmental review. And, for good measure, the
legislation would even create economic incentives for oil
companies to use seismic technology to survey for oil
reserves, letting taxpayers cover half the cost.

7. "Fail safe" technology isn't fail safe. The blowout
preventer (BOP), the device that was supposed to stop a
catastrophic spill after the explosion on the Deepwater
Horizon, failed due to a faulty design and a bent piece of
pipe, according to a report released in March. The Bureau
of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement
contracted the Norwegian firm Det Norske Veritas to
conduct a forensic examination of the BOP. The blind shear
rams, which were supposed cut through and close off the
well, failed because a pipe had buckled, the 551-page
report concluded--a problem that casts doubt on all the
other BOPs in use today.

8. The country's offshore regulator has a new name, but
it's still got plenty of problems. The much-maligned
Minerals Management Service (MMS) got a branding overhaul
and is now known as the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management,
Regulation, and Enforcement (BOEMRE). And while it's made
a number of changes in the past year, there are still
plenty of concerns about whether the agency is up to the
task. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and BOEMRE head
Michael Bromwich acknowledge that it will take years of
reforms to ensure that drilling is safe for workers and
the environment.

9. Fewer than half of people who have filed claims from
the spill have been paid. The Gulf Coast Claims Facility,
under the direction of administrator Kenneth Feinberg, has
approved approximately 300,000 claims out of the 857,000
it has received from individuals and businesses, totaling
$3.8 billion. The claims facility cited the "unprecedented
magnitude of the task" in its announcement marking the
year since the spill. A number of residents have grown
frustrated with the process and say they would rather sue
than wait on the claims facility.

10. BP still doesn't want you to see its tar balls. That's
right--even a year later, BP is still blocking reporters
from the beaches.

___________________________________________

Portside aims to provide material of interest to people
on the left that will help them to interpret the world
and to change it.

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