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Oil Spills: More Death And Destruction in the Gulf

The recent oil rig accident in the Gulf brings perspective to last weeks BP settlement announcement.

The true costs of oil production and exploration become clearer every day, as the pace of growth in offshore production increases, the cycle of death and destruction sadly seems to be keeping pace.

More than 2.5 years after the Deepwater Horizon disaster, we still have yet to see any real change. I would argue the risks are greater today.  Since the moratorium in the Gulf was lifted in the fall of 2010, the US has gone into high gear, selling off millions of square miles of the Gulf to exploration and development.  Oil production has rocketed past 2010 levels, expecting to reach record highs in 2013.  Safety measures by the oil industry and regulation by government sadly lag behind the rush to drill, placing workers, the environment, and coastal communities at increasing risk.

The day after a controversial settlement was announced that would relieve BP of further liability for most of the crimes committed related to the Deepwater Horizon disaster, we are reminded that a big payout by one of the richest corporations in the world is not enough to make a significant difference.  It is certainly inadequate for the survivors and families of workers that are killed and injured by negligent, and in the case of the Deepwater Horizon, criminal acts.  It is not enough for the communities that rely on a healthy Gulf.   

We don’t yet know the causes of this tragic loss of life, and we have too little information about any environmental impacts.  But one thing that last week's Justice Department settlement with BP brings to light is that corporations that callously disregard the law, resulting in injury to human health and the environment, will be convicted of felony crimes. The collateral consequences of such a conviction can include being disqualified from contracting with the US and being excluded from certain benefits and privileges granted to other corporations.  Accordingly, the sentencing Judge and the US should consider terminating or limiting contracts or subsidies to BP and other felonious corporations, particularly in the Gulf of Mexico, the Arctic, and other sensitive areas. 

Black Elk Energy, the owner of the ill-fated platform that will now contribute to the grim statistics of tragedy in the Gulf, was recently named one of the fastest-growing privately held companies, with an impressive three year sales growth of 2,510 percent.  Black Elk was racing to drill the first of 23 new wells in the Gulf of Mexico.  If the evidence shows that in their race to profit, Black Elk, like BP, broke the law, they should both be prohibited from exploration and production in waters of the United States.  

 

Justin Bloom is an attorney and Sarasota resident.  A graduate of New College and Tulane Law, he recently started the Suncoast Waterkeeper, a non-profit environmental organization.

http://www.facebook.com/Suncoastkeeper

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drd November 20, 2012 at 12:23 PM
The very first line of this post seems the most important: "The true costs of oil production and exploration become clearer every day..." The oil companies reap the profits while all of us pay the costs the corporations dodge. Thank you for speaking the truth.
LibertyLover November 23, 2012 at 12:27 AM
FACT: The oil company profits are a LOT less than you think. They have been trying to tax them to DEATH and they do that to destroy the oil business and instead try to pass the baton to "green" energy that has not yet yielded efficient energy for anyone. Also, the President and the environmental n@zis are fighting the Keystone XL Pipeline which would be MUCH safer than the gulf deep drilling but do people like you commenters realize this and support it? NO! You just want to send us back to the pre-Industrial age apparently. Yeah the Dems think this is "forward" eh? Phooey
LibertyLover November 23, 2012 at 12:33 AM
Here are some COLD HARD FACTS FOR YOU BOOBS: http://cnsnews.com/news/article/top-3-us-oil-companies-paid-428-billion-income-taxes-2010 The top three oil companies in the United States are ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips and Chevron. According to the SEC filings of those companies, as analyzed by Forbes, ExxonMobil’s pretax income in 2010 was $52 billion, from which it paid $21.6 billion in income taxes worldwide, leaving a net income of $30.5 billion. That equals a tax rate of 45 percent, which is 10 percent above the statutory corporate rate of 35 percent. _________________ So take your spin against oil companies making insane profits and stick it. What is YOUR tax rate hmmm? I do NOT work for an oil company and I have no family members who benefit from them. I am just sick and tired of liberals bashing oil companies when they should be thanking oil companies for everything they have given to society - plastics - many of them lifesaving - energy that is cheap and has been cheaper than any other type of energy without ridiculous subsidies. I also support nuclear energy and am tired of THAT also being demonized. I love that Dems think their mantra is "forward" - more like "backwards" to the stone age

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