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What I Need From BP

I haven’t written about the BP oil disaster, because it makes me cry.

I’m not saying that to be funny, cheeky or dramatic. When I think of the environmental disaster that BP has unleashed on our oceans, I start to cry. I can’t help it.

I have a love affair with the ocean. I was in my late 30’s when Jean-Michel and his amazing team from Ocean Futures Society took me underwater for the first time. That’s right, I was a beach kid. I was raised with surf and sand, but I’d never really looked at the world under the waves.

I am in love with the ocean. My children are in love with the ocean.

My children snorkel and dive into the kelp forests that surround Catalina Island, and chase schools of Garibaldi while shark families wiggle inches below us. My husband and I race to shine lights on giant lobster during night dives, and we delight in the Bluebanded Goby during the day.

My experience is that looking underwater changes the way you see the world. It changes the way we consume, how much we are willing to waste, and what we dispose of.

The oceans do not belong to man. The most we can hope for is a short invitation to visit. It is not our home.

So when I see this terrible excuse for an apology I am livid. Since BP has set YouTube up in a manner that does not allow me to embed their video on this site, I’ll go ahead and transcribe it here for you. Tony Hayward’s content is in bold, my comments are in italics:

The gulf spill is a tragedy that never should have happened. This is the sentence that comes closest to truth. This is NOT a spill. A spill is when a tanker tips over. This is a geyser undersea. This is a dramatic amount of oil that was meant to be underground.

I’m Tony Hayword. BP has taken full responsibility for cleaning up the spill in the gulf. This is patently untrue. BP has taken limited responsibility. In May they tried to blame it on the rig operator.

We’ve help organize the largest environmental response in this country’s history. Yes, you are responsible for the largest disasters in our country’s history. Remember the explosions in Texas City in 2005? Remember the spill in Alaska in 2006. I wonder why America hasn’t banned BP from it’s borders?

More than 2 million feet of boom, 30 planes, and over 1,300 boats are working to protect the shoreline. Note that the oceans are not worth protecting, only the shoreline. Why? Well, there are no news cameras in the middle of the ocean. Yet. Do not mistake BP for a company that cares one whit about the planet.

When oil reaches the shore, thousands of people are ready to clean it up. What is BP going to do when they are ill? They will be ill. Also, by the time the oil reaches the shore IT IS TOO LATE. The damage is done.

We will honor all legitimate claims and our cleanup efforts will not come at any cost to taxpayers. Bullshit. It already has. People are losing their businesses and their homes. This reduces the tax base. We lost financially already. When BP Executives file personal bankruptcy (as opposed to the moral bankruptcy they already claim) then I’ll know that I, the American taxpayer, is not footing the bill.

For those affected and your families, I’m deeply sorry. Even my eight year old knows that sometimes sorry isn’t enough. Sorry doesn’t fix things.

The gulf is home to thousands of BP employees and we all feel the impact. I don’t care about your employees until you start caring about my children’s future. They will find new jobs, perhaps in the green sector.

To all the volunteers and the strong support of the government, thank you. I thought you had this under control. You shouldn’t need help from government agencies, or were you going to reimburse us taxpayers for the valuable time you used?

We know it is our responsibility to keep you informed and do everything we can so this never happens again. If BP wasn’t allowed on American Soil or in American waters this probably wouldn’t happen again… here.

We will get this done. We will make this right. No, you won’t. You can’t. Not in this lifetime.

If you want to see what the oil looks like (remember that like an iceberg, you’re only seeing a tiny bit of it) take a look at this set on Flickr.

20 thoughts on “What I Need From BP”

    1. There should be a law against things like this and the government should be taking a stand in preventing this from ever occurring again.

  1. I grew up on those gulf coast beaches and so did my husband. I cry everytime I watch the news coverage, or read an article, or look at these pictures, because I realize that the beach I grew up on…the place where my husband proposed to me…..will never be the same. I feel that it has been stolen from me. It has been stolen from my daughter who never got to stand on the pier and watch dolphins play. She might be able to do that one day. But for now, I grieve.

  2. I am angry- but for all sorts of reasons. We like oil products and we like paying as little as possible for them. We have helped to encourage companies to act recklessly. That doesn’t excuse their behavior, but we are somewhat complicit in all of this.

    And I don’t know exactly how or where to draw those lines. I work my ass off to support my family and to ‘do’ for my children. If prices go up in some areas I am sunk, so I am stuck.

    The one thing I know for certain is that I want to see real campaign finance reform. I want to see a system where our reps work the entire time they are in office- not like it is now where they spend a third working on the getting reelected. Let alone all the favors that money buys….

  3. Remember this whenever anyone decides to complain about nuclear power being dangerous or messy.

    (And no, spent fuel doesn’t need to be buried; it can be reprocessed and used again.)

  4. This makes me cry too.

    And quite honestly I have SO many thoughts about it that I just can’t even put into words.

    It is disgusting. It is what will make our history. That generation that ruined the oceans. That generation that needed the oil. In 100 years people won’t look at BP in disgust they will look at this time period as a whole in disgust.

    And then they will wonder what it would even feel like to swim in an ocean.

    Because more than likely they will not know.

  5. Jessica, have you read the reports about clean-up volunteers and workers becoming ill? Symptoms like nausea, shortness of breath, fatigue, etc… After feeling sorry for them, I immediately thought of the fish and other sea creatures. What are they feeling? How many are dying, unknown to us? And will our oceans and marine biodiversity ever be the same?

  6. Before I was the Beverly Hills Mom I was a Coast girl. I don’t even know how to explain to y’all how bad this is. My family is from the Mississippi Gulf Coast and we are spread throughout the parishes of Louisiana as well. My father still lives on the Bayou Bernard, which is on the back bay of the Mississippi Sound. I grew up crabbing, fishing, and sailing these waters and oddly enough have lived through the two biggest hurricanes to blow through the Coast – Camille and Katrina. Growing up with nature all around was idyllic, even with the scary storms. There was always a big mess to clean, and shock and awe with regard to viewing the damage that water can cause.

    I was five when Camille hit in 1969, and in 2005 was visiting to help decorate my mother’s new beach house just in time to ride out the storm, which left her with no beach house, after only holding her dream of retiring there in her hand for one month. Her lot stands empty, still, as insurance rates for homeowners since Katrina is crazy expensive – since it was not her primary residence, she still has a place to go home to. My hope has been that my child could enjoy the Coast as I did and that my husband and I would build the house back on the lot when we were able.

    Honestly I cannot figure out how the people of the region keep it together. Waiting for the oil to come to shore is like a slow death. Anyone who hails from the area has a really emotional response to seeing the photos of the dying birds, the tales of the Biloxi and Grand Isle shrimpers, and the fears of every business person coming to life as the economy is now being destroyed – again. I just got an email from my college love that revealed exactly what the origins of all the seafood being served in his restaurant are, and none are from local sources anymore. Tourism and the seafood business are mainstays of the communities, and even in Los Angeles my family traditions are built around the wonderful revellion of shrimp, crab, snapper and redfish that grace the waters – I have paid fortunes to get the stuff shipped here for special occasions. If you’ve ever tasted a real jumbo Gulf shrimp, then you know why Southerners have the gambit on food that everyone loves. This is truly the end of all that, I am afraid.

    I heard a man from Grand Isle who has had a commercial shrimping business for two generations, and he says that the shrimpers could clean the oil balls out of the estuaries and keep the floating oil out before it gets in, but that the Coast Guard (which, btw, is funded by our taxes) will not allow it. He says the contracted clean up crews are allowing the spills to enter the estuaries when it could have been prevented by community involvement in order to make their cleanup contracts more profitable. He supports nearly an entire town of folks whose life work is seafood – where will these people go now to sustain themselves? This particular businessman believes that if the shrimpers are not allowed to do what they organically know how to do in order to prevent the oil coming in to all the estuaries that there will be at least a fifteen year lag before the shrimp and oyster beds can produce edible food again, not to mention the slow deaths of all the other vegetation and wildlife.

    My mother’s high school buddy now has Obama’s cell phone number. Obama ate at our restaurants and sat on our piers and took in what will likely be the last pleasant days of The Coast (as we call it). The president wants my Mom’s pal to call him and tell him what to do, as he is as helpless as anyone else, really. There is literally fire on the water in some places – it’s almost apocalyptic. My sugggestion? An executive order that requires ALL CEOs of companies engaged in offshore drilling take part in the resolution – there is no more important issue in that industry now – I want them ALL down there, sweating in the heat, breathing the fumes and helping catch and clean the hysterical pelicans, sea turtles and least terns. I want them all to fix this mess, and I don’t want to hear one more bullshit PSA like that Youtube video.

  7. Jack, I couldn’t agree with you more.

    Essentially, things won’t change because we don’t want them to. We scream when prices go up. We feel we deserve and demand cheap products. We forget that the price will eventually paid.

    I was listening to NPR’s “Talk of the Nation”, the other night and the reporter was stating the BP is giving orders to the law enforcement and law enforcement is preventing journalists from properly reporting. Here it is:

  8. What’s really surprising about this incident as that they don’t happen more often. The type of oil extraction that BP was doing is risky after all. As I saw someone comment on another blog, most people can’t find the studs in their walls to hang pictures, let alone drill miles down into the earth- under water no less – insert a pipeline and maintain it for indefinite periods of time. The degree of difficult is enormous and the margin for error? None. They can’t make a mistake and how probable is it that mistakes will never be made?

    Nothing can be done until they have completed drilling on a second well (which they are doing). Estimates put this at August and the Obama admin has been aware of this from the start.

    The only thing that can be done to clean up the area is siphoning the water and separating the oil out. To do this, they need tankers to store the recovered oil. The current glut of oil has tanker availability at all time lows.

    Our thirst for cheap oil – because we like our gas affordable and plastic is the basis for our lives anymore – is the real cause. We can’t have oil without risk anymore unless we simply decide to take our chances and buy it all from other countries. If deep water drilling is too big of a risk, than as a people we should say so and demand our government put an end to it. Of course, that won’t happen. We are too comfortable with the status quo – until something happens and then we are only upset because we don’t like to feel bad about our dependence on oil.

  9. I don’t know that people are really understanding the impact that this will have. In my panicked moments I feel that we have all lost something so profound. I want to shout, “don’t you get it! We’re killing the very eco-system that is responsible for sustainability!” I hate BP for this but we’re all to blame (unless you’re 100% green which really only Ed Begley Jr can lay claim to)
    Our dependance on oil is systemic. It runs through everything. We all know that we need to stop but we daily use it up like it’s water (don’t get me started on clean water)
    I hope to God that Obama is right. I hope this is the beginning of the end. I hope oil becomes so expensive that no one can drive. I hope my kids never own a gas-powered car.
    BP you fucked up bad and you need to step up. Unfortunately corporate responsibility precedent may make you think that you don’t have to. You can prove that wrong but you have to hurry up.
    Then you have to change everything around and concentrate on alternative energy to balance your karma.
    I figure you have about 25 years so get moving!
    As for the rest of us, we have to step up too. Stop driving like there’s no tomorrow or forfeit your right to whine about it when we’re at peak oil.
    And stop looking for someone to blame. This has been happening for a long time but now it’s happening on the front page of every news service in every country in the world.
    Blaming is not a solution. We all need to think forward. Solutions, ideas, crazy, hippy freaky ideas. Anything!

  10. I don’t know if y’all have seen this… I heard this man on a talk radio show that my husband listens to. He is a well known physicist. He tells not only all about BP’s failures, but WHY they are failures from a scientific standpoint, and why this could go on for years. Yes years. I don’t even have the words. But he does, and he says it better than I ever could… so here it is.

  11. I am probably going to get bombarded for this but…

    As someone who loves the environment and the ocean and all life forms from insects to plants to animals I am devastated by this disaster.

    Every time Tony Hayword opens his mouth I want to throw up. He’s so disingenuous and disgusting.

    I am so sorry for all of the lives this will ruin and all of the people who will struggle financially.

    BUT, my husband works in the oil field. I know more than most laypeople about what’s going on down there. For instance I know this is a one in a million accident. I believe it truly was an accident. One of catastrophic proportions but an accident none the less. I also know they knew there was a problem before it blew and ignored it which takes away some of the “accident” claim but I think even if they’d paid attention to the alarms it would have blown. They have yet to take responsibility for that which disgusts me on a level you can’t quite comprehend and frightens me just as much. My husband worked on this rig and others like it. He worked for Halliburton for 10 years, it could have been him on that rig. It could be us out of work just as easily had he not switched jobs. Or worse he could be dead.

    I also know BP is not going to go broke. Do you know why? Because they’re selling the oil they’re siphoning off right now. They’re selling the oil from their other rigs. The money they are paying out in settlements and trying to clean up their mess is a drop in the bucket for them. It’s important for people to understand this. They have no idea. BP will not suffer from this. Some of their employees will. They will cut their pensions, their profit sharing, lay people off, etc… but the big wigs won’t lose a minute of sleep over it or ever struggle to put a meal on their tables.

    Oil is something that reaches so much farther than you realize. It doesn’t just power your cars, it has so many applications. If the entire world stopped driving cars it would make a dent but it would not shut them down because oil is everywhere.

    Please don’t blame the guys who work the rigs. They put their lives on the line every single day to provide the resources you use. When you flip on a light switch you’re using coal that’s been mined by miners. When you turn on your heat you’re using the natural gas the pipeline workers provide. When you gas up your car you’re using the oil the workers have siphoned out for you. They are only guilty of trying to feed their families. If you want to blame someone start at the top, don’t start at the bottom.

    You want nuclear energy? Who will you blame when a plant blows up and a mushroom could forms? Will it be the men who died working in the plant?

    You want wind energy? Who will you complain to about the ugly wind turbines? The men putting them up or the men who are making a fortune because they own the patent on the turbines?

    Who will you blame for the cost of it all? Other sources of energy are extremely expensive. Ever priced solar panels?

    Until people stop trying to get rich off of energy there will be shortcuts taken, there will be men who are put in danger every single day.

    It’s not like people like my husband can leave the fields to work in the green sector. They don’t have the experience. Those jobs will go to people who know green energy not the people who don’t.

    I just implore you to think of the little guys who do put their lives on the line for each of you and consider them when you’re making blanket statements. Because they are only guilty of doing the same thing you do when you go to work every day.

    1. I doubt that anyone would blame the men who work on the rigs. Naturally we’d love to see them gainfully employed in a different sector, but as Tony Hayword relaxes with a weekend of yachting after not being forthcoming with congress about the 700+ safety violations (other big oil companies had between 2 and 6), I can’t help but call for his head.

      I’m horrified that your husband’s life is put in jeopardy every time he goes to work. The lack of safety precautions is NOT okay.

      1. I should clarify the rigs my husband works on do have safety regulations in place and he doesn’t work for BP. We don’t have BP here (thank God). But accidents happen every single day in this town in the coal mines (surface mines) or in the fields. Mostly it’s someone being careless or cutting a corner. My husband’s company and my brother’s coal mine both boast really impressive safety records, they’ve received rewards even. That doesn’t mean it can’t all change in the blink of an eye though if someone rolls a haul truck or a rig blows. It’s just a fear we live with and try not to let it cripple us. I live in the “Energy Capital of the Nation” so it’s a fact of life here.

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