THE BLOG
06/23/2010 04:09 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

On Their Own

That seems to be the attitude from BP and our own government regarding the residents of Gulf Coast communities soon to be decimated by the biggest oil disaster in history. Local communities are being left to their own devices to come up with plans to protect their fragile seashores and marshlands from the deadly black ooze. While the President and BP executives talk about clean-up efforts and their respective dedication to protecting the Gulf Coast from complete contamination, very little actually is being done. The disaster continues its inexorable and unstoppable approach to the marshes, the beaches, the estuaries.

Over the last few days we've seen Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal operating a makeshift "oil vacuum" from a motorboat, trying to personally suck up the muck off the murky water. Former fishermen have been hired (although many have yet to be paid) by BP to clean up the oily mess that has ruined their livelihoods and their lives. They dress in heavy canvas suits (but no respirators) and suffer sweltering heat to literally wipe down blades of marsh grass with the equivalent of sturdy . . . paper towels. Or they lay miles of lightweight boom, which -- according to this article in the Guardian -- are virtually useless: "The ocean's winds and currents have made a mockery of the lightweight booms BP has laid out to absorb the oil. 'We told them,' said Byron Encalade, the president of the Louisiana Oysters Association. 'The oil's gonna go over the booms or underneath the bottom.' Indeed it did. The marine biologist Rick Steiner, who has been following the clean up closely, estimates that "70% or 80% of the booms are doing absolutely nothing at all." BP officials give lip service to taking responsibility for the clean-up, but have largely abandoned actual efforts and left them to the communities themselves.

Sure would be appropriate to see Tony Hayward in a wetsuit with a skimmer off the coast of Alabama instead of on a yacht at a swanky boat race in England. Seems he's getting his life back after all.

Hayward, the BP CEO with a PhD in Geology, was unable to explain to Congress how this "unthinkable" accident occurred, could have been prevented, or can now be stopped. It's just a mystery to him. But, he did subtly blame Obama's MMS for approving all his company's safety shortcuts and ill-advised drilling methods. We now know they had no real plan to manage a blowout if their "money saving" shortcuts caused the well to fail, no plan to "plug the hole," no plan to clean up the spillage (which they claimed would have no environmental impact), and no plan to undo the unseen damage caused by the chemical disbursements BP dumped into the Gulf in a vain attempt to cover up it's crime. Ultimately, these toxins could poison as many marine species as the oil itself. Then there are the methane plumes that BP denies, despite valid scientific proof that they are spreading out in giant, lethal floating islands thousands of feet underwater, destroying the oxygen and therefore the plankton and other tiny organisms that form the basis of the marine food chain. How do you clean that up? These are the invisible killers that BP executives, in their total lack of humility, stare into the cameras and arrogantly deny even exist?

Gone are the attempts to plug the "damn hole" and many experts now suggest that further attempts to "kill" the well could cause a massive methane explosion that could provoke an even more deadly tsunami. The relief wells are the last hope, and even they may not work. There is a growing possibility that the oil will continue to gush until the well runs out, many decades from now. Read this from Rob Kall, who has been in contact with a BP insider, and you won't have any doubts about the horrific gravity of the situation.

So, where do we go from here? President Obama and BP worked out a $20 billion escrow fund for compensation to potential victims of the disaster, but the payout details are unclear. "If you or your business has suffered economic loss as a result of this spill you will be able to file a claim," the president said last week. But what will it really cost to repay the residents of seven states for the loss of their homes, their businesses, and their lifetime earnings? And what about medical payments for the petroleum-exposure claims that are likely to flood in over the next decade?

Even with an annual estimated profit of $20 billion, BP might be bankrupted by this disaster long before all the victims are compensated. And mere cash will do nothing to erase the trauma every American is going to experience, as well as the devastation coming to Gulf marine life now suspended between life and encroaching extinction. No matter who's ass he kicks, Obama cannot order dolphins not to die or compensate the entire Gulf Coast region for the total loss of its cultural heritage, repair the delicate chemistry of the ecosystem and once-legendary shoreline, or mandate that brown pelicans don't go extinct. Watching President Obama last week promise that the clean-up will "leave the Gulf coast in better shape than it was before", and that he was "making sure" it "comes back even stronger than it was before this crisis" was painfully insulting, delusional, and undermines his authority to comment legitimately on this catastrophe. Once the raw petroleum has killed the marsh grasses, and the shoreline slowly submerges into the black water, permanently eliminating large sections of the Gulf Coast, how, exactly, will it become whole again? Or stronger than before? Stop it, Mr. President. It is ridiculous to suggest such a thing.

The people of the Gulf region are pissed. All Americans should be outraged, and so should the rest of the world. It seems there is no stopping American corporations from raping the world, and it's only a matter of time before some toxin is released, some man-made chemical by-product, some nuclear reactor waste, some ozone-killing gas, affects all life on the planet.

I cannot share Obama's panicked optimism about making the Gulf better than before, but I do hope that our representatives in Washington and their corporate masters abandon their mindless greed and stop regarding the Earth as their own, an endless supply of resources waiting to be torn and gouged from the planet for corporate profit. If this realization does not replace the greed, our home will soon be too ravaged to sustain any life.

Mike can be heard and seen nightly from 9pm-12am ET at Mike Malloy Show