Joe Romm, ClimateProgress.org: Thanks for having me, Keith.
Olbermann: BP originally said it could handle a spill by itself. It originally said it would just be 1,000 barrels a day. How has that affected this whole thing, what they said?
Romm: Yeah, well BP gave us—you know, they said trust us. And they said—they gave us a low ball estimate for the spill rate, and left everyone with the impression they could take care of it themselves. I think, thankfully, the Obama administration didn‘t trust them. NOAA did their own calculation and realized that this spill rate was five times what BP said. It‘s 200,000 gallons a day.
And so Obama declared all hands on deck. And he sent out the Coast Guard, EPA and Interior. But I think BP‘s initial reaction has been—has made this mess a lot tougher to clean up.
Olbermann: The—the cause of the explosion is yet to be determined. The cause of the safety valve not engaging fully yet to be determined. But does that mean it‘s too early to determine whether or not regulation was an issue here?
Romm: Well, you know, you had the quote from Palin, everyone said this is clean, this is safe. The fact of the matter is that BP was not using the latest technology. Brazil requires this backup cutoff switch that BP was not using.
There are many legitimate criticisms that can be made of BP and its history with regard to cost cutting and safety, and in fact that was the subject of the very first post that I wrote on this blog several years ago. It was the oil spill from a ruptured BP pipeline in Alaska and my outrage over the disclosure of BP’s costcutting on maintenance which led to that rupture which, in part, caused me to become a blogger.
To spread distortions and untruths about BP reacting to a sunken oil rig with indifference is unnecessary, and that kind of distortion weakens the impact of the truthful criticisms that can be leveled against what is actually a horrible company.
The original estimate of 1000 barrels per day came from the Coast Guard, not from BP, and the Coast Guard was on station immediately, not in response to any order from Obama “only after BP had failed to solve the problem.” I would like to see the reporting where BP said that they could handle the problem themselves and declined any help, because I have been following this story very closely and have not seen any such thing.
To claim that "BP‘s initial reaction has been—has made this mess a lot tougher to clean up" is utterly absurd, and this is the only place that I have heard this ridiculous claim made.
The “backup cutoff switch” which Brazil requires is a bit misleading. What he is talking about is an acoustic activation device for the wellhead cutoff device, which serves as the fourth backup if the first three methods for shutting the cutoff fail. While Brazil does require it, it might be useful to know that no other oil-producing nation does, and that it is not altogether reliable and has a nasty habit of shutting the cutoff during normal operation, which is not only costly but itself has the potential for causing harm.
I don’t recall the precise years, but BP experienced a severe refinery fire which caused numerous deaths and resulted in criminal charges for negligence in their maintenance and safety procedures in the plant. They were hit with criminal charges for the neglect in maintenance procedures leading to the pipeline rupture and oil spill in Alaska. It is by no means unreasonable to assume that the operation of this oil platform may have placed cost and speed above safety to personnel and the environment, but that needs to wait for investigation and the ability to make charges based on actual discovered facts.
Let the other side use their “death panel” slogans and fight their battles with slander and dishonesty. We are the good guys. We fight our battles with the truth.