Dick Cheney’s Deregulation to Blame for “Obama’s Katrina”

ONCE AGAIN: Deregulation to Blame for Another Tragedy

The evidence is in: Halliburton, Dick Cheney, secret energy task force meetings and massive Republican deregulation has once again led to tragedy. The April 20, 2010 Gulf oil spill is yet another story of careless, reckless deregulation and corruption under the Bush administration which has led to loss of life, destruction of wildlife and the environment, loss of income, and more. The full impact of the oil spill is still unknown, but the environmental and economic fallout from the massive spill is mounting quickly.

Gulf Oil Spill Tragedy
Gulf Oil Spill Tragedy

Evidence is mounting up that the oil spill in the Gulf is the result of a tragic sequence of equipment failures – but ultimately, all of them should have and could have been caught, had the rig been regulated properly. It turns out that tens of thousands of offshore rigs are barely regulated, a result of Dick Cheney’s private energy meetings and interference with the Department of Minerals Management Services, which regulates the off shore drilling. The MMS is also responsible for collecting the billions in royalties from the oil companies and is the same agency that was investigated and found to be doing cocaine and having sex with oil executives. Their judgment regarding the necessity of regulations was clearly not impartial.

NPR reports:

‘Wednesday’s hearings by congressional and administration panels in Washington and in Louisiana laid out a checklist of unseen breakdowns on largely unregulated aspects of well safety that appear to have contributed to the April 20 blowout: a leaky cement job, a loose hydraulic fitting, a dead battery.

The trail of problems highlights the reality that, even as the U.S. does more deep water offshore drilling in a quest for domestic oil, some key safety components are left almost entirely to the discretion of the companies doing the work.”

In the hours leading up to the spill, Halliburton was pumping cement into the well, which was supposed to block any oil or natural gas from surging out through the drill piping. They then capped with the (now infamous Halliburton) cement plugs, which are designed to stop gas or oil surge inside the pipe. The last plug was still missing just before 10 p.m. on the 20th when the oil began its now fateful surge through the pipes.

NPR reports that according to MMS spokesman David Smith, there are NO federal standards for the makeup of the cement filler. The government has been working to publish new guidelines later this year, but they are not mandates.

It’s important to note that in other industries, such as the housing industry, there are strict regulations and inspections at every step of the process. It is appalling that off shore regulations are not even equal to the housing industry, where cement footings have to be inspected before framing can proceed. While this may seem shocking, one needs only to ask themselves if the small business building industry had friends like Cheney or indeed, if Cheney was a stock holder of your small business home builder to understand why the standards are different.

Remember this the next time Republicans talk about how deregulation is good for the little guy, the mom and pop business owner. That is a fallacy, used to sell a corporatist agenda to the Main Streeters. Deregulation lines the pockets of the wealthy. Only the super wealthy can afford to buy off officials and buy off responsibility once the pseudo investigations begin. Your small business owner would be crushed under the weight of the lawsuits filed against him or her if he or she failed to regulate him or herself and caused so much destruction. Reasonable regulations actually HELP businesses, provided they are implemented and overseen. The only folks who benefit from no regulation are those who can afford to get the government to bail them out when they fail due to deregulation.

So, again, the next time a modern day Conservative justifies this sort of tragedy by saying you can’t regulate a free market or stop all “accidents”, remind them that this is NOT a free market. The government is bailing out all of the sectors that the Republicans deregulated. That is not a free market, it is literally socializing the downside of business. In a free market, those companies would be left to fail. As for the argument that you can’t stop all “accidents”, this was not an accident. This was preventable, at many stages along the way, before it became a tragedy. An accident is something you have no control over and can not prepare for. This was not an accident.

Here’s an example from Reuters of how Republicans are spinning this:

“Representative Joe Barton, the top Republican on the subcommittee’s full Energy and Commerce Committee, urged lawmakers not to restrict offshore drilling but still blasted the companies involved in the accident.

“We’ve had an accident. It is not an act of God,” Barton said. “It is something that could have been and should have been contained. The facts that we’ve uncovered … show that there was in all probability shoddy maintenance.””

So, while Barton admits this could have been prevented with maintenance but it was not, he still doesn’t think offshore drilling needs to be stopped until regulations are in place? Interesting how he changed the goal post from their usual argument that accidents will happen. Now, it’s accidents will happen but don’t stop drilling. It’s amazing that they can make these arguments with a straight face. They are still trying to sell us that the oil companies will and should police themselves. Just how long do we have to keep on giving this failed notion the benefit of the doubt?

And yet, as NPR reported: “… industry officials acknowledged a fistful of regulatory and operational gaps: There is no government standard for design or installation of blowout preventives. The federal government doesn’t routinely inspect them before they are installed. Their emergency systems usually go untested once they are set on the seafloor at the mouth of the well. The federal government doesn’t require a backup.

In one telling exchange Wednesday at a hearing of the Coast Guard and MMS in Kenner, La., Coast Guard Capt. Hung Nguyen asked a regional supervisor of the federal regulatory agency a question about blowout preventives: “It’s my understanding that it’s designed to industry standard and it’s manufactured by the industry, installed by the industry, with no government witnessing or oversight of the construction or installation. Is that correct?”

“That is correct,” replied Michael Saucier, the MMS field supervisor for the Gulf.”

Regulation and oversight were clearly MIA in this story. Dick Cheney’s secret energy meetings, the MMS suddenly deciding under Bush that they would not continue with the recommendations to update the regulations of the oil companies as began under Clinton (it should be noted that the regulations have not been updated since 1996 – this is how deeply the oil companies have infiltrated our government), the government allowing the MMS to both collect royalties and police the off shore drilling (which is akin to the rating agencies on Wall Street which take money from the companies they “rate”) – all of this is both predictable and profoundly shocking at the same time.

The question at this point is what will the Obama administration do about this, if anything? In other words, just how complicit were the Democrats in helping Dick carry out his Destroy America Plan? I have to ask myself why it always comes down to this: the moment when we all turn to the Democrats and scold them for allowing the Republicans to be the greedy, lawless monsters they have been for the last ten years. Perhaps this is like turning to the abused woman to ask her why she didn’t protect her children from the abusive man. Perhaps it’s our frustration with the lack of accountability in Washington that causes us to settle on the Dems, waiting for them to DO something to rein the cowboys in. Maybe it isn’t something they can do, maybe it isn’t something they want to do.

Maybe we’re stuck voting on social issues and the rest of it is a one big corporatacracy. The rage, powerlessness and helplessness we all felt during Katrina never went away. The Gulf Spill is just being added to the list. We wanted blood, but we couldn’t get rid of Bush or punish Cheney or Rove. And it looks like we are going to have to swallow another major injustice against humanity and the environment, all because the oilmen have more money than we do. Meanwhile, Cheney is filthy rich, Bush is all done playing cowboy now and can just hang with the elites, and Rove is happy on Fox News spewing his deceptions. They’re all free.

When you’re seething with rage, remind yourself that THIS is the America some people are dying to take us back to. What would be left, after another four years of Republican rule? What industry is still standing? What life still manages to eek by? It’s absolutely reprehensible what Republicans did in the name of free market capitalism. They’ve bastardized the meaning of their own ideology to such an extent that it can only be received with scorn until they man up and take responsibility for the consequences of their choices.

And I’m not holding my breath on that one.

26 Replies to “Dick Cheney’s Deregulation to Blame for “Obama’s Katrina””

  1. Wow! Excellent post, SJ.
    Anyone with a brain knows where the fault lies, but thank you for pointing out that everyone who has done nothing to stop this reckless lawlessness is complicit in this and the string of de-regulatory disasters.
    We can’t afford to do nothing. We certainly can’t afford any further Republican rule.

  2. This article is trying to place blame on the fatuous notion of “deregulation,” but doesn’t give one example of deregulation. The closest it comes is this, “it should be noted that the regulations have not been updated since 1996,” which is not the same as deregulation.

    Furthermore, most of the evidence available shows that there were regulations in place that may not have been adhered to.

  3. It cost me some, but I had to comply with county inspectors to make improvements to my home. It boggles my mind that there are no cost-comparable check points here.

  4. You are a bunch of BIG Dummy’s. Oil Deregulation happen in 1998 under President Clinton. Its deregulated price controls and inport and export of Oil. I know you wanted soo bad for Bush was president when that happened but even with that said deregulation didnt have anything to do with happening. Wake up you FOOLS

  5. The only “FOOLS” here are the people that continue to make this a partisan issue, when it is clearly evident that ALL involved are to blame. BOTH Rep. and Dem. pols take $$$ from Big Oil, and NONE that do give one good fuck about any of us.

  6. @never_to_return,

    So, are you suggesting that both Democrats and Republicans take equal amounts from the oil companies? And how about oil PACs? Are you suggesting Bill Clinton deregulated as much as Bush? Do you have a response as to why Clinton ordered the evaluation of the MMS and regulations which Bush/Cheney’s MMS decided to ignore? Do you know when the last regulations were put in place?

    If you know the answer to those questions, you would never have suggested a false equivocation as you did. And there is only one side pushing the meme that “both parties do it”, because it is only advantageous for the guilty to suggest such a thing. Spreading the blame. You don’t hear any of the drill baby drill people owning up to their lies.

    You might notice that the drilling going on was under Bush’s orders, not Obama’s, because, as you should know, Obama never signed the order for the climate change bill which included the drilling provisions.

  7. @Sarah Jones, I have to give it up to never to return on this one. His statement that both take money is true. percentages at this point are not important. And I think he may have a point that none of them really care for anything other than votes.

    The maintainability of the balance of power in congress runs on saying what it takes to get votes and the pleasing of many masters.

  8. @Dickens,
    Pay attention to reading and what your politicians vote for-not the right wings smooth talking honey lips that lie and say they stand for the little guy/gal, but really pushes for new deregulation laws for oil (hint, hint, hint-Haliburton-which I hope you know Cheney’s ties and over 33 million dollars of retirement profit-was suppose to maintain the very pipe/cap/whatever you want to call it to prevent oil and gas spewing out of the earth)-which Cheney pushed for when he was first elected Vice President under George W. (of course this was a conflict of interest and he should not have been pushing for this with senators-because it is GREED and POWER and HURTS the world and its inhabititants-people, animals, and THEIR WELL BEING and SURVIVAL. FYI the deregulation of oil rigs information was shared with the world from the former head of the Department of Energy during the Bush/Cheney presidency era because THANK GOD HE HAS A CONSCIENCE. I DON’T KNOW HOW DICK CHENEY CAN EVEN SLEEP AT NIGHT- Oh, he doesn’t have a conscience, or have high principles and morals that evaluate and reflect on people-he and his daughter need to really listen and care about the world, its environment, and what it is doing to people and animals.

  9. @craig,
    you are wrong. It pays to really get the facts from accurate and reliable sources. How about someone that worked directly under George W. and Cheney (their former Head of Energy-yes he came out in public and announced that he was worried that this deregulation would cause something like the Transocean rig explosion and deaths of 11 men and he said that the next President would have to live with all of the very GREEDY and UNSAFE regulations and laws from Cheney and George W. Bush) yes, the oil deregulation happened under George W. and Cheney, not Clinton. Cheney personally pushed for it and pushed for it so the right wing conservative controlled would pass it and of course, the right wing conservative George W signed into law. Why-his background and millions (probably billions today) of ties with Root and Brown Oil and Haliburton. P.S. It was Haliburton’s responsiblity to maintain the very cap that did not seal and stop the oil and gas on April 20th that ended up causing the explosion. Get accurate and reliable sources, not some right wing talker that does not research their facts, or even want to tell the truth because they just want to spout their mouth instead of the truth.

  10. Of course, by now everybody has at least heard of Halliburton, the all-time poster child for war profiteering. But I’ll bet most people don’t understand exactly how this company has gone the full financial circle in Iraq. Some background info may be helpful.

    First of all it helps to know that between 1999 and 2002, Halliburton gave more than $700,000 in political contributions, almost always to Republicans. In 2000, it donated $17,677 to Bush. In fact, the 70 or so companies that were awarded contracts in Iraq have contributed more money to Bush than they have to any other candidate over the past 12 years.

    But overall, Halliburton owes most of its good fortune to Vice President Dick Cheney. While he was Bush Sr.’s secretary of defense, Cheney directed millions of tax dollars in government business to Halliburton.

    Toward the end of his tenure, Cheney decided to turn over the business of planning and providing support for military operations abroad, such as preparing food, doing the laundry, and cleaning the latrines, to one company, Halliburton. He commissioned Halliburton to do a study of how this plan might work. In effect, you might say that Cheney paid Halliburton to create its own market.

    It was paid $3.9 million for its initial report, which offered a strategy for providing support for 20,000 troops. The Pentagon then paid Halliburton $5 million to do a follow-up study. In August 1992, Halliburton was selected to do all the work needed to support the military during the next five years. For its services in Somalia, Halliburton was paid $109 million and over the next five years; it was paid $2.2 billion for work in the Balkans.

    When Bush Senior lost the election to Bill Clinton, and Cheney lost his government job, he called in the markers and cashed in big time by becoming Halliburton’s CEO.

    Five years later Cheney waltzed back through the revolving door right into the vice president�s office, with a retirement package from Halliburton said to be worth more than $34 million. Not bad for a guy who never so much as ran a lemonade stand prior to being hired by one of the world’s largest companies.

    But it didn’t end there. Cheney still draws over $150,000 a year in deferred compensation from Halliburton, and he still holds over 400,000 stock options, at an estimated worth of $18 million (and rising).

    Cheney Does Good By Halliburton
    I have to admit, in the second half of the 1990s, as CEO, Cheney did rack up a number of notable accomplishments. He increased Halliburton�s offshore tax havens nearly five-fold, from 9 to 44. And that sure paid off. The company went from paying $302 million in federal taxes in 1998, to getting an $85 million refund in 1999. All of which comes as no surprise considering the fact that Halliburton is one of the world�s most notorious corporate crooks. Cheney and Halliburton was a match made in heaven. Together they found ways to make money off of just about every known terrorist county on God’s green earth, regardless of the strict US laws against it.

    While he was CEO, American companies were barred from doing business with Iran. So Cheney set up an address in the Cayman Islands. 60 Minutes did an investigation of the offshore subsidiary called Halliburton Products and Services, and discovered that the company had no known office or employees. The only sign of the phantom company was a forwarding address to Houston, Texas. So this bogus company was used to avoid US sanctions while doing business with Iran.

    Halliburton�s bad habits don�t set so well with some of its shareholders these days. New York City’s controller, William Thompson, who watches over the city workers� $80 million pension fund, said that city workers affected by 9/11, were �outraged that their retirement portfolios included stock in US firms getting fat off contracts with rogue nations like Iran, which funds the terror groups Hezbollah and Hamas and is suspected of giving sanctuary to Al Qaeda leaders.�

    But this conduct is nothing new. While Cheney was CEO, Halliburton even used a subsidiary in the Cayman Islands to make tens of millions of dollars off Iraq. According to UN records and oil industry executives, quoted in the June 23, 2004 Washington Post, Halliburton held stakes in two firms that sold over $73 million in oil production equipment and spare parts to Iraq.

    And yet, listen to what Cheney (the pathological liar that he is), said when he was running for VP in 2000, and was interviewed on ABC’s This Week on July 30, 2000: �I had a firm policy that we wouldn’t do anything in Iraq, even arrangements that were supposedly legal. We’ve not done any business in Iraq since U.N. sanctions were imposed . . ..� Cheney really needs to get some help for that out-of-control compulsive lying disorder.

    Anything To Make A Buck
    Halliburton has been doing business with terrorists for years. In 1995, it was fined $3.8 million for doing business with Libya. The company sold Libya oil drilling tools that critics say could also be used to trigger nuclear bombs. So, keep in mind, whenever Bush starts bragging about dismantling Libya’s WMD program, it was Halliburton that helped create the program in the first place.

    Under Cheney’s watch, Halliburton was caught time and time again over-billing the Pentagon. In 1997, the US Government Accounting Office (GAO) found that it had inflated expenses in the Balkans, charging $85.98 for a sheet of plywood that only cost $14.06. A follow-up report in the year 2000 found more inflated costs, including charges for cleaning the same offices up to four times a day. In February 2002, Halliburton paid a $2 million fine for defrauding taxpayers on its work in the Balkans.

    However, don�t think for one minute that Halliburton has turned over a new leaf just because it was forced to pay a few million in fines. That is never going to happen. By now, I�m convinced that Halliburton estimates the cost of potential fines and lists them under �war profiteering expenses� when it submits the bid. Of course, that’s if the company is even required to submit a bid.

    In the fall of 2002, Halliburton geared up to make big bucks while Bush was preparing to destroy Iraq. On the very day that Congress voted on the war resolution, someone within the Bush administration got on the phone and told Halliburton it had nine weeks to build a base to house 7,000 soldiers. It was awarded several no-bid contracts, and its been driving a gravy train through Iraq ever since.

    Who Cares About The Troops
    As part of the LOGCAP contract, Halliburton serves meals to troops in Iraq and Kuwait. In December 2003, the Pentagon inspected the military kitchens and found dirty pans, dirty grills, dirty salad bars, blood all over the floor, and rotting meats and vegetables in kitchens operated by Halliburton.

    In May 2004, the Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA) determined that the company had charged for thousands of meals that were never served. Auditors then decided to look into food contracts at 50 other locations.

    In June 2004, the DCAA completed its review and found that Halliburton had billed for 36% more meals than were actually served. The Pentagon has refused to reimburse the company for overcharges that amount to about $186 million. In addition, the DCAA has ordered Halliburton to send all future bills to their agency for prior approval, before submitting them for reimbursement.

    If Halliburton had not been handed the no-bid food contract, taxpayers could have saved a fortune. According to the LA Times, �the Army recently renegotiated a contract that Halliburton had with a Kuwaiti company to provide meals. By contracting directly with the Kuwaiti company, instead of going through a middle man like Halliburton, the Army knocked 40% off the cost of the contract.�

    According to GAO Controller David Walker, since the Pentagon started dealing directly with the Kuwaiti company, the price fell from about $5 a meal to about $3.

    On another front, in line with its usual and customary behavior, Halliburton has also been caught with its hand in yet another till. The Pentagon began another investigation after an audit revealed that the company had overcharged the Army by $61 million for gasoline it delivered to Iraq.

    And this $61 million is over and above the $6.3 million it already had to pay back when employees got caught taking kickbacks, in return for awarding a Kuwaiti-based company a contract.

    While continuing to rip off taxpayers, and making a fortune off an endless war, Halliburton went full circle when it was awarded billions of dollars worth of no-bid reconstruction contracts (guaranteed payment by tax payers), to rebuild the same country it helped destroy. Only in America (with a corrupt Vice President in your pocket) could something like this ever happen.

    Evelyn J. Pringle is a columnist for Independent Media TV and an investigative journalist focused on exposing corruption in government. She can be reached at: e.pringle@sbcglobal.net. (C) Copyright 2005 Evelyn J. Pringle.

  11. you still didn’t answer his question ;)

    remember, since these companies are adhering to ‘federal regulation’ (regardless of what political team made such regulations) then they are not criminally negligent. Get the government out of business and let these businesses be culpable for crimes. BP won’t be sued because they were “following regulated standards” even if those standards were pushed by the republicans. It’s called free market economics, it happens to work.

  12. Actually, although Haliburton owned the well, BP was in charge and they gave the order that caused the explosion. Remember, BP is one of the largest lobbyist and one of the largest contributors to the presidents’ campaign besides GE…the ones pushing for those $7 lights that contain enough mercury to kill the family pet. As long as people use the word GREED and BIG business as a basis for their agument it will be business as usual in this country. Your side isn’t better than the other side, they are both flawed and don’t care about you at all. They just make you feel better because they use words like “planet” and “animal”

  13. Sarah, please learn your history more accurately. Are you aware that when Teddy K died, he was recieving 250K from an oil trust that daddy K left him? In fact ALL the kennedy children get 250K (tax free…its a trust remember) a year. You don’t think dems don’t own oil interests? It’s a win win game, D’s get to attack R’s for owning the oil companies and wanting higher profits by waging wars on oil countries, and the D’s get to collect the profits too. This problem won’t change until people realize that. They are BOTH benefiting and we are all left complaining and not doing anything about it.

  14. You forgot one thing Evelyn (btw, you must have done the ghost writing for huffingtons book ‘pigs at the trough’ because this article is note for note)
    ALL OF THIS WAS LEGAL at the time. And I do agree with you. But to solve it through more regulation is ridiculous. REGULATION and our fed gov ability to give no bid contracts is the problem. Carve down the 600k + pages of the tax code and businesses like this couldn’t do the things they do. It’s called in economic terms a coercive monopoly and ONLY THE GOVERNMENT can set them up. They don’t exist in a free market model. Complaining about the other team doesn’t fix it. Wait till all the dirt surfaces from this admin, it will be the same story.

  15. I am Nerdbotatron My fiance is a member of these blogs, so I decided it was time for me to join. There seems to be a wealth of information on here, I look forward to assimilating it xD Hmmm, a little but about myself….later

  16. I’m really only interested in finding what the actual deregulations are that Bush signed into law. I read the article and the author did the same thing everyone else is doing. They claim Bush deregulated everything but they don’t say exactly what got deregulated. The author did state that Bush didn’t follow recommendations from Clinton which means that Bush didn’t do anything at all, one way or the other.

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