Saturday, July 31, 2010

Where's the Oil?

The attention span of the American voter has always been troubling to me. Corporations have always factored it into their decision making.

From the beginning BP was fighting the Obama administration about their use of chemical dispersants on the oil pouring into the gulf.

The exact makeup of the dispersants is kept secret under competitive trade laws, but a worker safety sheet for one product, called Corexit, says it includes 2-butoxyethanol, a compound associated with headaches, vomiting and reproductive problems at high doses.

“There is a chemical toxicity to the dispersant compound that in many ways is worse than oil,” said Richard Charter, chairman of the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council.

“Right now there is a headlong rush to get this oil out of sight out of mind,” Charter said.

The use of dispersants is a trade-off between decreasing the risk to organisms that thrive on the water's surface and coastline, and possibly increasing the risk to fish populations, sea grasses and coral reefs, and creatures that live on the seafloor.

It has been clear from the beginning BP realized if we didn’t see oil washing up on our shores, we’d assume all was well.

Sure enough headlines from news outlets yell, “Where’s the oil?”

Microbes do consume quite a bit and there is evaporation but most of the oil is dispersed and down in the water column and sea floor.

I’m afraid the fact that people don’t actually see the oil will make everyone complacent. There will be augments from idiots on the right that want to believe people can’t possibly have a negative affect on our environment and that our economy can’t survive if we regulate the oil companies.

These people are spoon fed “facts” from big money. I think their level of outrage against us socialists is carefully controlled. That’s why they are an Astroturf movement. Their grass roots reach as deep as the petrochemicals they’re made of.


Anonymous said...


I agree that BP, and the oil industry in general, are out of control. The only thing that will motivate them to do the right thing is to make it very expensive for them to do the wrong thing. I have long felt that the oil industry has way too much influnce over our government and they must be corrupt because they simply do not obey the laws of economics. In any other industry which enjoys enough players to have competition, the most efficent competitors make a profit and the less efficient ones lose money. If the price of a product is so high that all players are making a profit, this lures other competitors to come in and drive the price down until the least efficient fall out of the bottom. This competitive model is not working with oil. Prices are at a point where all the players are making huge profits, yet you don't see new competitors coming in. This and the fact that oil companies cannot explain how the price at the pump is determined and who makes the decision, even though every pump at every station in town will go up or down at exactly the same time, leads a normal person to come to the conclusion that they are illegally price fixing and have undue influence with the government so they are never held accountable.

I am a free-market guy, meaning companies should be free to compete. That does not mean that oil companies should be allowed to rape the environment or that they should be free from enforcement of anti-trust laws. That also does not mean that I believe Wall Street should be allowed to run unchecked.

I don't share your general distrust (I think that's putting it mildly) of corporations. I have worked for three different Fortune 500 companies in my career. I have not observed them to be any more abusive of the environment or the economy than anyone else. I also feel I have earned the best salaries and benefits from these companies. They are simply motivated by one thing, earning money for their stockholders. The way to get them to be good citizens is through enforcement of regulations and makeing it expensive for them when they break the rules.

I think that we have a corrupt political system where some corportations, like oil companies, can get politicians in their back pocket. That is what really needs to be fixed.


Dorothy said...

I agree with Jamie. The government should regulate, and be held in greater accountability for upholding and enforcing those regulations. The environment is something to protect for the sake of humanity, pollution should not be tolerated. Money talks and I won't buy or do certain things. I like having that freedom to affect the market. I know you have the best of intentions but Dave, I sense a certain amount of disdain in your opinion of humanity, how does that fit in with socialism? What does that lead to?

Doggie said...

It's not disdain, it's disappointment.

Dorothy said...

That makes sense, based on your other writings. And I admit I feel disdain for humanity from time to time, and I don't like that about myself. I suppose I have enough of an anarchist streak, that I distrust socialism. Much harder to overthrow! Thanks for clarifying.