Hearings on BP oil spill today; IG report faults Interior Dept

Hearings on BP oil spill today; IG report faults Interior Dept

Congressional hearings begin today on the BP/Transocean/Halliburton oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Update: Side note here–BP is also being sued by its own investors, according to Natl Law Journal. The first lawsuit was filed in New Orleans on May 7. Plaintiffs allege that

“BP executives and its board of directors “recklessly disregarded accidents and safety warnings for years” related to the Deepwater
Horizon rig. The lawsuit accuses the defendants of breaching their fiduciary duties by, among other things, causing BP to violate safety and environmental laws, exposing the company to criminal and tort liability, and subjecting BP to adverse publicity and impaired earnings.”

Meanwhile, overwhelming evidence continues to mount that public policy, applied with feeling and thought, could have prevented this disaster. Even as many people labor to clean up the mess created by a combination of laissez-faire non-regulation and non-enforcement with corporate greed and unscientific wishful thinking, comes the release below.

It should be more than apparent by now that the brand of physics, chemistry and engineering applied by BP in our Gulf of Mexico was about on a level with curing warts by splitting them and burying them.

You heard it here first: The way to escape the fiscal burden of ‘foreign oil’ is not to ruin America’s shorelines. The way to escape the fiscal burden, and incidentally to escape the physical harms including state war and guerrilla war, is to use less oil. An intelligent public policy apparatus would have been supporting scientific research to that end for the past fifty years. From the non-profit Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER):

No Safeguards against Political Manipulation of Science despite Repeated Scandals

Washington, DC – The U.S. Department of Interior still lacks any policy to ensure the integrity of its scientific data, according to a new Inspector General report.  As a result, agency scientific findings remain susceptible to alteration or suppression in support of pre-determined political positions, according to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).  .

The report by the Interior Office of Inspector General (IG), dated April 2010, was quietly posted without announcement on the IG website late last week.  In recent days, Interior has been reeling from reports that it ignored both internal and external scientific warnings about the risk of oil spills and the lack of response capacity before Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced a major expansion of offshore drilling, just days before the disastrous BP explosion and spill.”

PEER lists the following examples:


  • Continued efforts inside the Minerals Management
    Service to stifle scientists who raise environmental concerns about
    offshore drilling, as documented in an April 2010 Government
    Accountability Office report;
  • Endangered Species Act positions taken by the U.S. that fly in the
    face of the overwhelming weight of agency science, on issues ranging
    from the Florida panther to the sage grouse.  As under Bush,
    conservation groups are able to prove in court that Obama agency stances
    are “arbitrary and capricious” for ignoring the best available science;
  • Interior’s ongoing hostility toward whistleblowers and continued
    reliance on “gag orders” and other restrictions on specialists candidly
    discussing problems or sharing data.

“In March 2009, President Obama promised new policies that would both protect agency science from
political tampering and scientists from retaliation for doing their jobs but those policies never were promulgated,” Ruch added.  “Compromised
scientific integrity is not just a problem inside Interior; it is a government-wide phenomenon whenever technical data carries heavy policy implications.”

Contrary to the IG report, Interior claimed that it did adopt a scientific code of conduct back in 2002, but the agency did so via a press release and never put it into its official manual.  That code applied only to the scientists and not to managers and political
appointees who remain free to alter technical documents for non-scientific reasons.”

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