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In an op-ed article this month in Gulf Coast newspapers, John Mingé, the chairman of BP America, highlighted the coast’s record tourism numbers, emphasized the $27 billion BP had spent and dismissed environmentalists skeptical of the gulf’s recovery as advocates using the spill “to raise money for their causes.”
They took a lot of credit in their PR for their continuing resolve to stick with the clean-up after they damn near destroyed the whole Gulf Of Mexico. They were, they said, “committed to returning the Gulf to its previous greatness” Or words to that effect repeated again…and again and again…over the past years. Until now. (more…)
The corporation that virtually destroyed half the Gulf of Mexico by spilling millions of tons of oil into it tried this week to get out of its responsibility – and previous agreement – to pay for at least some of the damage it caused.
Last week, [the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals] rejected [British Petroleum]’s attempt to stop businesses in the Gulf from collecting on losses resulting from the 2010 oil disaster. BP claimed that the companies were trying to recover “fictitious losses,” but the New Orleans court didn’t buy it. In a 2-to-1 ruling, the judges upheld an earlier ruling against BP, and said that an injunction on BP payments to Gulf businesses should be lifted. These payments are part of a settlement that BP agreed to back in 2012 – a settlement that the oil company said was “good for the people, businesses and communities of the Gulf, and in the best interests of BP’s stakeholders.”
This is just s-o-o-o corporate America. First they lowball damage estimates, then they make promises they have no intention of keeping, then they attack the victims by claiming they’re perpetrating fraud, and finally they send their high-priced lawyers to convince the courts to let them off the hook when the damages turn out to cost more than their original, absurdly low, estimate. Corporate America takes NO responsibility for its actions unless forced to by the courts (an increasingly rare outcome, btw) and even then never stop trying to get out from under. (more…)
There’s a new analysis of the Gulf oil spill that makes plain the reasons for it are, as many of us said, systemic. Not an accident, not a once-in-a-lifetime concatenation of incompetence, faulty equipment, and mismanagement, no, the direct result of BAU. The report calls for massive new regulation of the oil industry. The reason I know this will not happen is that Harry Reid promises to get right on it. QED.
We all know by now that the oil companies have been using Iraq as cover for a species of price-gouging that defies both law and custom by such a wide margin that the mind boggles. And we’re probably all wondering how they get away with it in the face of Congressional opposition and threats of hearings and new laws to stop them. Most seem to put the lack of action down to the standard Democratic cowardice when faced with actions that might displease corporate contributors. I did myself until I read this.
Seven years ago, Enron lobbyists sought to free their new experiment in electronic trading, “Enron Online,” from oversight by the principle regulator of energy futures and derivatives, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. They managed to drop a loophole into an appropriations bill that has effectively exempted all electronic over-the-counter energy commodity markets from US regulation. Before this bill was passed, crude oil was under $25 per barrel and motorists enjoyed affordable gasoline.
Since then, energy commodity traders and hedge funds have poured billions of dollars into these “dark markets.” According to a bipartisan report published by the US Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, excessive speculation may be responsible for as much as $20-$25 of a barrel of crude oil. Between 50 cents to $1 per gallon of gasoline may be a direct result of irrational and unethical behavior in the commodity markets. Enron may be long gone, but its legacy remains.
Few Americans realize the extent to which futures trading on dark markets determines the price they pay for energy. Daily trading has an immediate impact on the price of gasoline, heating oil, natural gas, and other fuels. A large majority of futures trading — as much as 75 percent, according to experts — is conducted on unregulated dark markets, as opposed to trading on regulated markets, including the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Without first repealing that loophole, Congress actually has no legal basis for passing anti-price-gouging legislation since the oil companies can insist – as they have repeatedly – that they’re only responding to “market forces” when they raise their prices, leaving aside the uncomfortable little detail that they used their sockpuppet relationship with the Republican Congress to create that “force” in the first place. Fortunately, Democratic leaders are not unaware of the problem.
A bill called the “Oil and Gas Traders Oversight Act” would close this loophole and bring accountability to the dark markets. Congress should pass this bill, put an end to the real “price gouging,” and tell commodity market profiteers to stop playing with their constituents’ wallets.
Republicans will no doubt threaten to filibuster it.