The Gulf Coast Spill: Dick Cheney’s Katrina
While the Right furiously tries to pin the Gulf Oil Spill on President Obama, the facts tell a different story. This is the story of rampant deregulation in a never-ending ode to Profit as King, as propagated by the Bush/Cheney administration across all sectors of our economy, which didn’t end with Wall Street or mortgage lending or Enron. Indeed, the deregulation scandals extend now to off-shore drilling in the form of the missing Valve, a remote shut-off device called an acoustic switch. Dick Cheney, former CEO of Halliburton (an oil-services company), may have had his hand in the Department of Interior’s decision not to mandate the valve for off-shore oil rigs.
ValveGate is coming to a theater near you.
“An official for BP said Tuesday night that a remotely operated underwater vehicle has successfully cut and squared the end of a leaking pipe 5,000 feet beneath the surface in preparation for fitting it with a valve. Once the valve is in place and closed, the leaks beneath the ocean will be down to two.”
A remote shut off valve for off-shore rigs is a regulatory requirement in Norway and Brazil, two major oil producing countries, and several other large oil companies find this valve so important that they use the acoustic switch at the cost of $500,000 a pop even though it is not mandated.
“A $500,000 acoustic trigger may have allowed workers escaping from the burning rig by boat to send a remote signal 5,000 feet below the water’s surface to close the valve and stop the oil. Instead, BP (BP.L) is using submersible robots, whose tiny metal arms so far have been unable to move the lever that would cut off the flow of crude.”
The Wall Street Journal reported:
“The oil well spewing crude into the Gulf of Mexico didn’t have a remote-control shut-off switch used in two other major oil-producing nations as last-resort protection against underwater spills.The lack of the device, called an acoustic switch, could amplify concerns over the environmental impact of offshore drilling after the explosion and sinking of the Deepwater Horizon rig last week….. regulators in two major oil-producing countries, Norway and Brazil, in effect require them. Norway has had acoustic triggers on almost every offshore rig since 1993. The U.S. considered requiring a remote-controlled shut-off mechanism several years ago, but drilling companies questioned its cost and effectiveness, according to the agency overseeing offshore drilling. The agency, the Interior Department’s Minerals Management Service, says it decided the remote device wasn’t needed because rigs had other back-up plans to cut off a well.”
A report commissioned by the department of Minerals Management Service (MMS) in 2003 said that remote acoustic systems were useful when the primary shut-off pipe device has failed and are also useful in depths greater than 10,000 feet. What changed their minds? Environmentalists postulate that Dick Cheney’s secret Energy Task Force influenced this critical decision not to mandate the acoustic switch. It’s also worth noting that The Dept of Interior MMS under the Bush/Cheney administration were busted for doing cocaine and having sex with oil industry executives, a fact that may have um…impacted their objectivity, shall we say? As well as their willingness to be persuaded to see things in a manner advantageous to the oil companies (and by oil companies, I mean Dick Cheney “Maximization of oil profits is a stated goal of his (Cheney’s.”).
Environmental lawyer, Mike Papantonio, said on the Ed Schultz Show that Cheney’s Energy Task Force determined that the shut off valves were a burden on the industry :
While many countries do not require this switch, many oil companies use the switch without being required to do so. At the cost of $500,000 per switch, the fact that several companies use this switch willingly gives weight to the valve efficacy argument and makes the Dept of Interior’s claim that the switch has not been proven effective suspicious.
Congressman Bill Nelson (D- FLA) has initiated an investigation regarding the energy industry’s lobbying regarding deregulation and the House Oversight and Investigations Reform Committee is also investigating the Interior Department MMS, to determine why they didn’t mandated the shut-off switches.
If it is determined that Dick Cheney’s secret Energy Task Force worked to fight mandating the remote shut off valve, then this disaster should rightly be determined Cheney’s “Katrina” if it is to be anyone’s “Katrina”, though it’s distressing that both the media and the Right are obsessed with finding another President to be as incompetent as Bush — both for different reasons; one to grab eyeballs and one to make a desperate false equivalency in order to justify the scathingly horrific Bush/Cheney administration. At the very least, the Bush regulators need to explain how they determined that the cost of the valves was not justified, in light of the 6 million dollar a day clean up cost of the Gulf Spill.
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.