Posts Tagged: BP

Government contractors: never too big to fail us

In a recent article that hasn’t gotten much attention, Ron Nixon of the New York Times exposes a major problem with government contractors who get out of line.  When a federal agency wants to stop working with them (a process called “debarring”), sometimes they can’t:  the contractors are too important and too essential to the agency’s supply chain or service requirements.  BP, for example, is such a key supplier of fuel to the government that after the Deepwater Horizon disaster, when EPA officials wanted to make an example of BP by ending their involvement in government contracts government-wide, “the Pentagon objected: BP was its biggest supplier of fuel.

With no way to say no, the government continues to reward bad behavior.

From Rush Limbaugh straight on up the food chain: thoughts on the BP oil disaster

The beauty of this article from Julia Whitty in Mother Jones is that it gives us reason to worry about the Gulf of Mexico after the BP disaster.  Worry’s not wonderful, but its cousin Ignorance is definitely a problem.  Over the summer, some odd people — people like Rush Limbaugh, who is a lot of things, but who is definitely not an ichthyologist, ornithologist, or any kind of biologist — were telling us that because the spill had dissipated on the surface, we shouldn’t be concerned (Limbaugh said “oil is natural…as natural as the ocean water is.”)  Whitty explains just how healthy it is for the planet if we do worry, and moreover, if we try to understand what’s really going on in the ocean’s depths — with the help of actual experts. (more…)

Idea: Have government regulate oil industry

Who knew?  Turns out there’s an oil company called BP that is responsible for releasing petrochemicals into the environment without telling people.  James C. McKinley, Jr. reports in the New York Times on BP’s latest travesty in Texas (they’re good at creating disasters over in Louisiana, but in Texas they’ve outdone themselves — it’s all about being consistent).  (more…)

If you can’t trust the government . . .

When the people whose very livelihood depends on the government say they don’t trust the government, we’ve got a lot to worry about. David A. Fahrenthold and Juliet Eilperin report in the Washington Post that Gulf Coast shrimp fishermen, told by the Obama administration that they can start shrimping today and that their catch is safe, are wary of fishing again in spite of government reassurances. (more…)

California power plant – breakthrough in ‘clean coal’?

It could be a breakthrough for electricity generation, or an innovation Americans will come to regret.

Funded in part by stimulus and other federal funds, a planned California power plant would convert coal and petroleum coke into hydrogen which would then be burned for electricity. According to Will Evans of CaliforniaWatch, the key feature of the new plant, to be built and run by BP and a joint venture partner with strong BP roots, is “carbon sequestration,” the modern day alchemist’s holy grail that will (more…)

Another ‘BP Squad’ should investigate dispersants

The Obama administration has deployed the ‘BP Squad’ of federal investigators to the Gulf to probe whether there was any wrongdoing on the part of government regulators or private companies related to the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig.

As Peter Henning points out in The New York Times, the criminal probe focuses mostly on (more…)

Rolling Stone sets the pace for reporting on federal agencies

Frank Rich says Michael Hastings’s scoop points out the Washington press elite’s laziness and inability to dig for the real story.  Hastings, he says, “seemed to know more about what was going on in Washington than most insiders did.”  The preference of Washington reporters and bloggers for the easy story was chronicled early by Understanding Government’s founder, Charles Peters, in his book How Washington Really Works (nice of Google to make Charlie’s book available for free).

Getting stories out from inside government agencies is never easy, and in today’s fractured media environment, publications can claim they don’t have the money it takes to cover federal agencies aggressively.  But, as Rich points out, “Seymour Hersh was a freelancer when he broke My Lai.”  What’s more, Rolling Stone‘s latest issue also has a second installment of Tim Dickinson’s investigation of the lax enforcement environment at the Interior Department even after “Obama’s sheriff” Ken Salazar took the agency’s helm.  The first installment was published 14 months ago.

Preventive Journalism and the BP oil spill

One of the challenges preventive journalism faces is that it combines so many specialties:  writing, reporting, historical analysis, and evidence-based forecasting.  Skeptics we’ve talked to about this approach say you can’t report on something that’s going to happen in the future.   But as NPR’s Deborah Amis makes clear in her recent interview with Prof. Tad Patzek of the University of Texas, expertise in predicting the future (and avoiding tragedies like the Deepwater Horizon oil spill) is a field we can’t afford not to develop.  (more…)

Gearing up for an anti-government story?

The subhead in the New York Times says “U.S. Concedes It Must Rely on BP for Help.” The Washington Post writes “Obama administration conflicted about relying on BP to stop gulf oil spill,” which is the approach the Post often takes to turn a national story into a Washington story and keep it alive.  More informative is the Post’s own blogger, Joel Achenbach.

And as the federal government struggles to cope with an unprecedented disaster, don’t let any comparisons with Hurricane Katrina fool you.  Government neither can nor should be responsible for the cleanup of a disaster caused not by force-majeure but by a private corporation’s own errors.  BP is both responsible for the spill and for the cleanup.  It owns the oil — whereever that oil may end up.

Will BP Catastrophe Lead to a Sea Change?

Although the energy sector was doing more whining than gloating, until late last month there was much for the industry to celebrate. Even with Democrats pulling the levers of power, officials are still eagerly shoveling funds into ‘clean’ coal research, and nuclear power continues to gain converts among enviros and has even earned the President’s embrace. Even California was ready to reopen its waters to offshore drilling.

The explosion of the Deepwater Horizon has prompted a sea change. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger quickly declared (more…)