06/12/2010 10:01 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Exercise in Denial: BP Still Claims No Oil Plumes

BP Executives Tony Hayward and Doug Suttles have repeatedly denied the existence of underwater oil plumes in recent weeks. They cite expert evidence and studies, even as multiple other studies have shown the existence of plumes. Just how deep is the culture of denial in this large oil company?

Energy Boom reported on May 31st that "Hayward said samples taken by the company show no evidence of large masses of underwater oil. He said that oil's natural tendency is to rise to rise to the surface, and any oil underwater is currently making its way to the top."

Days earlier, on May 28th, the Wall Street Journal reported a University of South Florida research vessel discovered an oil plume 1300 feet below the surface. Then on June 9th, a two-week research expedition on the Walton Smith (pictured above) found overwhelming amounts of evidence for plumes and large clouds of oil below the surface. The samples, pulled from depths of up to 1200 meters "stank to high heaven," researcher Smanatha Joye said. "They smelled like creosote, asphalt and diesel."

Yet on June 9th BP COO of Exploration and Production told NBC's Today show still defended Hayward's statement, saying "we haven't found any large concentrations of oil under the sea" and that it "may be down to how you define what a plume is here." Watch the whole chilling interview:

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In an ABC interview the same day, Suttles was even more blatant. "There's yet to be anyone who has found any significant quantities below the surface. Whether that's just below the surface, or at deep levels," Suttles told ABC's Elizabeth Vargas. (h/t to the Raw Story)

BP lies don't stop at the existence of plumes, but run much deeper. We've seen a BP-connected 'environmental' group telling the NYTimes the drilling disaster "wasn't that bad" and Rep Ed Markey repeatedly forcing BP to make live video public. From spill rates to video feeds, from safety procedures to the integrity of the blow-out preventer, Atlantic Free Press gives a detailed history of BP's disregard for the facts.

What's the bigger picture here? We know that oil companies have funded junk science and fake experts for decades. Climate Coverup and Desmogblog detail the extent of that deception, how it is carried out, and who does the work.

The question is, why do we trust oil companies at all? Why do we trust them to handle the gulf-spill clean up or to accurately predict the amount of oil that has escaped? Why do we trust them to abide by human rights standards in the Amazon or in Nigeria? Why do we trust them to forecast the amount of oil left in reserves and how much longer we can be dependent on fossil fuels? And why do allow them to fund 'independent think tanks' that spend millions to influence politics?

Lets be perfectly clear: oil companies operate in the interest of oil profits, and everything from clean-up operations to global warming science is a problem to be minimized so they can get back to the main task: oil profits. Lets not let these experts in denial get away with it. Lets slam BP for incompetence here, but lets also slam the oil industry generally for its gusher of lies on all fronts.