Well, here we are over 50 days after British Petroleum’s Deepwater Horizon oilrig exploded, sending 11 workers to their deaths, and unleashing an uncontrollable gusher of Louisiana “light sweet crude” oil into the Gulf of Mexico. Luckily, I’m here to report that it’s been sealed off and that the worries are over, no problem, it’s all cleaned up and life is back to normal.
Well, I’d like to report that. The real news is that the “cap” they put on the sawed-off pipe is capturing a “significant” amount of the leaking crude. A look at the live video feed shows “significant” amounts of crude still being released into the Gulf while people from Louisiana to the Florida Panhandle are watching their summer season, their fisheries, and their entire way of life ruined. Throughout the crisis, BP CEO Tony Hayward’s calm and reassuring words have been inspirational to the people whose lives have been devastated and destroyed.
Well, I’d like to report that. Unfortunately, Mr. Hayward’s words and deeds may go down in history as one of the biggest corporate FUBARs ever. Right after the spill, Hayward asked his fellow BP executives, “What the hell did we do to deserve this?” I’m sure the families of the 11 dead rig workers and the people of the Gulf Coast might be in a better position to ask that question than a CEO who earned more than $6 million in salary and bonuses last year. At least that was the only wrong thing he said.
Well, I’d like to report that. Mr. Hayward continued to issue forth amazing proclamations likely designed to minimize the perception of how bad things really were. On May 14, Hayward told a British newspaper, “The Gulf of Mexico is a very big ocean. The amount of volume of oil and dispersant we are putting into it is tiny in relation to the total water volume.” That was before no end was in sight to this gusher that continues to pour crude into the Gulf, over 36 million gallons by a conservative estimate as of this past Thursday. Just four days later, as oil continued to bleed into the Gulf from the failed blowout preventer, Hayward reassured us as he said, “I think the environmental impact of this disaster is likely to be very, very modest.” That same day, when asked by reporters if he could sleep at night knowing what was happening, Mr. Hayward replied, “Of course I can.” After these gaffes, after getting quite used to the taste of his own foot, Tony Hayward finally grasped the severity of the situation and the ramifications of its long-term consequences.
Well, I’d like to report that. On May 31, as he attempted to issue an apology for BP’s role in the disaster, Mr. Hayward uttered the now infamous quote he’ll be remembered for long after the flow of oil is finally stopped: “I would like my life back.” Well, Tony, guess what? So would the 11 deceased oilrig workers. So would the myriad birds and sea creatures that have perished because of oil contamination. The people in Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida would like their summer season back. Gulf Coast fishermen would like their fisheries and their livelihoods back. Speaking on behalf of the millions of us who are affected in one way or another, I WOULD LIKE MY GULF BACK!
The latest news is that BP still plans to pay out dividends to its shareholders, the company suggesting that it can handle all the costs of cleanup and claims and still afford the dividend payments. Keep in mind that American corporations and British corporations differ on their dividend philosophy. According to UK’s Guardian, “British investors view dividends less as a one-off reward than as the price of maintaining access to the capital markets.” Still, the payment of $10 billion in dividends sends the wrong signal to all those here awaiting cleanup and claims payments. Given its track record, however, BP doing the right thing seems as likely as Elton John playing at Rush Limbaugh’s wedding… oh. He did?!? Wow.
At least regional fishing magazines aren’t doing stupid economy-killing stuff like publishing altered oil-ruined shore photos with Photoshopped grossly enlarged dead beached sail catfish on their covers… oh. It must be another graduate of the Tony Hayward Business School.