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The Futile Boycott of BP

It’s true. Boycotting BP may feel good, but it’s pointless.

Recent events have curious. First, this talk of the company going under seems entirely premature to me. BP’s annual profit for 2009 was 12.5 billion. That was down from 25.5 billion in 2008. This is a trillion dollar company. Why would anyone be talking about bankruptcy this early in the game? This is especially perplexing to me when you consider the fact that Exxon ended up paying a total of 4.3 to 7 billion (I’ve seen figures in this range – can’t get an exact number) dollars in cleanup, fines, remediation, compensation, and other fees. How can anyone be talking about bankruptcy when recent precedent suggests that the total cost to BP won’t equal one years’ profit?

Another fact that most people aren’t aware of, is how big of a piece if the British economy BP represents. It’s the third largest British company. BP is such an integral part of the UK’s economy that it is responsible for one out of every seven pounds paid out in retirement funds. I am positive that President Obama has had daily phone calls with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown. BP is simply too big to fail for the UK, which is why we’ll never see our president put them in receivership.

I’m not usually a conspiracy theorist, but I smell an acquisition in the air and I think that the white house it brokering a deal to make it happen. Exxon or Conocophillips would be the two companies most likely to acquire BP.

Another curious fact to that end is that President Obama appointed William Reilly to sit on a commission to investigate how this disaster happened. William Reilly currently sits on the board of directors for Conocophillips. Coincidence?

Maybe, but it smells funny when you put the whole picture together.

We know that Obama can’t actively do anything to help precipitate the demise of BP. He would be seriously jeopardizing our relationship with the UK, whose economy is already in a precarious position.

We know that BP can’t possibly be hanging by a financial thread at this stage of the disaster. To date, they’ve spent pennies of their first quarter earnings on this disaster. They have no real reason to believe that they won’t get the same disaster blue light special that Exxon got for the Valdez and yet, the press is inexplicably painting a picture of a financially crippled company. Are they priming the pump in order to sell the public on the idea that there’s a need for an acquisition?

Is it a coincidence that one of Obama’s appointees to investigate the spill sits on the board of one of the two companies that could acquire BP?

Brokering an deal a la the acquisition of Merrill Lynch by Bank Of America would seem to be the most logical move for Obama. It would help to salvage the British economy while limiting the amount of money that the new entity would have to pay out to cover BP’s liability in this catastrophe. This would satiate the public’s thirst for BP’s blood by “putting them out of business”. But don’t worry about the executives at BP. They will all no doubt, receive high paying board positions with their new “owners”.

Am I crazy or does this seem like the only possible end to this horrific tale?


Bitchy’s Energy Policy

This is obviously something that we’re all thinking about, given the BP disaster in the gulf.

Let me share a few thoughts on this catastrophe before I move into my energy policy.

First off, BP is obviously reprehensible for their part in this. That well should have been packed in mud (as they’re finally in the process of doing now), right from the beginning. They ignored safety measures in order to cut costs.

We saw a preview of how BP plans to fend off the law suits, during the congressional hearings a couple of weeks ago. BP, Transocean, and Haliburton all formed a circle jerk in which, they each pointed the finger at one of the other two companies and denied their own accountability. Personally, I believe that this was BP’s operation which makes them primarily liable for damages. I sincerely hope (although I have no faith it will go down this way), that a court makes that decision early on in the process. I have no issue with BP turning around and suing Transocean or Haliburton for any liability they feel may rest with the other companies due to negligence, but I believe that everyone that has been damaged by this disaster should be able to collect damages from BP.

Exxon fended off paying out a single dime for twenty years. Many of the fishermen that lost their livelihoods died during those twenty years. We need to make sure this doesn’t happen again.

Let me add that I am disgusted by how the Obama administration has handled this so far. They have relied entirely on BP to assess, inform, and remedy the situation. Are they stupid? It’s obvious to anyone watching this unfold, that there is no government agency that has the knowledge to deal with this. That part isn’t Obama’s fault. But as it has become increasingly more obvious that BP also lacks the knowledge on what to do here, government inspectors should have gone in to gather information and start working with BP on formulating a cleanup plan. The fact that BP has been the only entity gathering data during the crucial first thirty days, makes it even more difficult for those seeking damages to make their case. I find it reprehensible that the Obama administration’s complacency is adding misfortune of a lot of people whose lives have been destroyed over this.

On to my energy policy.

I wish we were in the position to stop all offshore drilling immediately, but we’re not so that’s not my short term position. If we had followed the trajectory set by Jimmy Carter on energy policy forty years ago, we may be there today. But Ronald Reagan (can we please refer to him as the fuck up that he was now?)took the solar panels off the roof of the white house and every president that has followed him has done little or nothing to move us out of oil dependency, so here we are. Since Jimmy Carter left office we’ve had seventeen oil spills where over 50,000 (or more) barrels were spilled, totaling well over 50 million barrels of oil spilled in the past thirty years.

My point is that we’re not getting better at this, and anyone that tells you we are is full of shit. Our seafood already has alarming levels of mercury and other scary shit in it. Fish in Alaska are still coming up with weird tumors on them, from a twenty one year old spill. We need to set a goal for getting off oil. This simply isn’t working anymore.

Plus, we have 2% of the world’s oil reserves. We consume 25% of the world’s total oil consumption. Does this sound like a situation we can drill baby drill out of?

So here’s my plan.

-We must allow offshore drilling to continue, but we need to impose and enforce stronger regulations on both drilling and transporting.

-We need to force oil companies to drill on the leases they currently hold. Here’s what most people don’t realize about “drill baby drill”; oil companies are exploring on the leases they have, and then they’re capping those wells until oil is worth more. That’s what they were doing with the Deepwater Horizon well. They were capping it. I understand that the rig in the gulf is an exploration rig, which is different than a drilling rig. But what the oil companies have been doing, is capping oil that they find indefinitely. Think about it, why would you sell oil at $100 a barrel if you knew that waiting ten years would increase the value of that oil by 300%? We need to give the oil companies a limited window of opportunity to drill on the leases they currently hold. We could also limit the number of offshore oil leases that a company can hold. This would force them to drill baby drill, instead of hoard baby hoard.

-We need to end all subsidies and tax breaks to oil companies. They don’t need it. When you’re making 45 billion dollars every twelve weeks, there’s no reason to panhandle the American people for help.

-We should take all of that money and channel it into developing green technologies like The Bloom Box. Can you imagine where we would be today if we had started 40 years ago? If we can start manufacturing green technology, we would get the added bonus of possibly reviving Detroit. We have manufacturing facilities that are going to crumble if we don’t start manufacturing something in them soon. I say, let’s incentivize R&D firms to manufacture in Detroit.

-We need to significantly raise cafe standards on automobiles every ten years. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t be driving cars that get a minimum of 60 mpg, especially when you consider the fact that a 1973 Honda Civic got 40 mpg.

That’s it, Bitchy’s plan to energy independence. We need to do what we do; innovate.

You’ll notice that I didn’t mention nuclear energy. There’s a reason for that. First off, we can’t build a nuclear power plant without the government guaranteeing the loan. Banks won’t lend to nuclear power plant developers. They’ve proven to be a bad risk, so the American people would be on the hook for paying to build a nuclear power plant. Once we get one built, insurance companies won’t insure them. So American taxpayers would be on the hook for any and all damages if something went wrong. And lastly, no one has come up with a permanent solution on what to do with the waste. France has made some progress on this. They’re reusing most of the waste. But it’s what they’re doing with what’s still left that concerns me. They’re basically encasing it in concrete and burying it. That concrete will break down over time, even if there were no nuclear materials in it. I’m going to go ahead and say that with nuclear waste in it, you’re going to have to dig up those concrete caskets to make sure they’re still sealed fairly often. So 100 years from now, France is going to be dealing with the nuclear waste they’re producing and the nuclear waste they’ve produced over the past 130 years.

I’d be willing to have a conversation about building and insuring a nuclear power plant after someone has worked out the waste issue, but not before then.


STOP Blaming BP

Yes, you read that correctly. I do not subscribe to the idea that BP is to blame for the oil spill. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely believe that BP is responsible for the spill, but I do not blame them for it. And no, I’m not a shill for Exxon!

Blaming BP means buying into that whole, “corporations are people” nonsense that republicans like to spew. You see, in order to blame BP for this disaster, you must believe that BP should have a moral compass. You would have to buy into the idea that BP should have imposed stronger safety measures on itself because that would be the right thing to do. Can you see how that doesn’t work?

BP, like any corporation, has one and ONLY one objective; to make as much money as they possibly can. They have a fiduciary responsibility to their shareholders. They do not have a moral responsibility to the planet (or anyone else). They don’t have a conscience and they don’t have feelings that can be hurt, nor should they.

You’re naive if you expect them to. As a shareholder, I need for the company that I invest in to have the sole objective of increasing the value of my shares in the company. Corporations should be nothing more than money (and job) creating machines.

It is the government’s job to protect the health and well being of its citizens.

I blame the Bush and Obama administrations for this. They should have been the moral compass. They should have made sure that the drilling operation was safe for the workers and the ocean. They should have regulated them more thoroughly, and they certainly shouldn’t have entertained the notion of issuing waivers rather than inspections.

In a healthy society, the government and the corporations would have an adversarial relationship. Each side pushing against the other with conflicting agendas. The corporations’ profit motive should be clashing with the government’s objective to protect the health and well being of citizenry.

That’s not what we have here. We have a government that is nearly entirely bought and paid for by the corporations. They’re not adversaries, they’re allies. And they’re aligned against we, the people.

Here’s where I should go off on a tangent about publicly financed elections, but I’m going to save that for another (or several) posts.

My point in this post is that BP isn’t where our focus should be here. If you’re blaming them while at the same time insisting that corporations are not people, then you need to reexamine your philosophy to come up with something more consistent. I go on and on about conservative hypocrisy. Here’s an area where liberals need to check themselves. Blaming BP for not policing themselves is like blaming a lion for hunting deer. It’s what they do.

No the blame here lies squarely on the shoulders of our government. They failed to protect us and they failed to protect our environment.