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British Petroleum: Now With Less Oily Revenue! (or “Turm-oil in the Gulf”)

15 May 2010

On April 28th, 2010, a massive rupture occurred on the ocean floor at the base of a BP oil platform.  It started spewing oil into the Gulf of Mexico at a rate of between 200,000 and 4,000,000 gallons per day.  Various estimates take a varying number of things into account.  (Click here to see a real-time ticker of gallons lost.)  By any estimate, it is quickly becoming one of the worst man-made disasters in world history.  Other, comparable, events are the Exxon Valdez oil spill of 1989, the Dust Bowl of 1935, and the catastrophe at Chernobyl.

Satellite image of BP oil leak on May 11th, 2010.

Oil executives have been “falling all over one another,” as President Obama put it, to place blame on anyone they can.  Despite the estimated damage hovering around $10 Billion, all companies involved seem to feel as though they should not be held responsible for all the damages.  Transocean, the company that owned the faulty rig, claims only $27 Million in responsibility.  BP, the company leasing the rig, claims they should have no financial liability as they have already lost an estimated $450 Million in revenue as a result of the disaster.  Halliburton, the company which installed the equipment on the rig, has merely pointed two fingers: one at BP and one at Transocean.

That leaves about $9.8 Billion dollars in damage that no one is claiming responsibility for.

You may be thinking; ‘At least Transocean is a large corporation that pays their fair share in corporate taxes and in so doing helps further the social safety net provided by the federal government when needed.’  If you are, let me stop you.

Transocean Ltd.

Transocean Ltd. is located in the foothill of the Swiss Alps.  Switzerland only has a 16% tax on Transocean’s $4.4 billion dollar industry as opposed to the 35% tax rate in the United States.

Then the question becomes; Should the federal government step in and subsidize yet another private sector misstep?

No.  The good news is that there is a bill working it’s way through congress right now that would raise the financial liability amount for disasters of this type to $10 Billion.  If this bill passes, and in my opinion it is extremely likely, the three companies involved will (hopefully) be held to a much higher standard than they have so-far conceded.

Despite the potentially unprecedented amount of ecological damage to the Gulf region, many Republicans and right-wing supporters have begun to dismiss the dangers of oil drilling.  Some have even called for more off-shore oil drilling; emphasizing the nearly fool-proof fail-safe systems and overall eco-friendliness of modern oil drilling.

Satellite image of BP oil leak on May 9th, 2010.

It’s important that we push back against this agenda.  Don’t get me wrong; Oil has served us well for the last century… but it is time to move.  Even if every domestic oil field were tapped, the United States simply could not produce enough oil to sustain itself.  When drilling for more oil doesn’t get us anywhere and we currently spend $630 Billion on oil imports every year (mostly from countries with anti-american sentiments) — what is the next logical solution?  Green, sustainable, renewable, domestic, job-creating, energy.

America is in a unique position to make a huge leap forward in science and technology, to provide blue and white collar jobs, to ensure future generations have access to clean air and water, and to rob our enemies of the money they need to wage war against us or our way of life.  We’re in a unique position which may allow us to finally break the strangle hold oil companies have had on Washington for decades.

We need a total overhaul on corporate tax law and environmental protection and liability laws.  Companies that receive more than half their revenue from American markets need to be held accountable for their fair share of taxes.  Too many companies seek refuge from US tax law by opening small offices in countries with smaller economies; Hell, I’ve even done it.  Seemingly just as often, corporations are directly responsible for human tragedy on varying levels and we lack contemporary law to dictate how best to handle the situation.

We need a carbon tax to replace our nations payroll tax.  Enacting one would increase revenue (which is exactly what is needed to fix the Gulf disaster) for the federal government while liberating citizens everywhere from paying the standard payroll tax.  A carbon tax combined with unique tax benefits for clean and renewable energy would foster an atmosphere of progression and independence.  It would help create millions of jobs and even more entrepreneurial opportunities.  In the process, oil would go the way of the dinosaur and we would all be better for it.

Much to my surprise, many elected officials are speaking out in favor of a federal ban on offshore drilling.  The senators of California, Oregon, and Washington have introduced a bill that will ban Pacific drilling.  Governors Crist (FL) and Schwarzenegger (CA) have also added their voice to the growing cry for such a ban.  Even Republican Robert McDonnell, Governor of Virginia, is on-board with drilling bans.  In fact, he would like us to move us a step further and replace offshore drilling platforms with offshore windmill platforms.

Offshore wind platform, UK

Below, you’ll find links and information related to contacting officials to voice your support of drilling bans.  While voices are a great tool in a political battle, the one thing that goes further is money.  If you can, please donate to one of the organizations below.

In the time it took you to read this, another 30 gallons of oil rose to the surface of the bayou.

Click here to sign a petition to ban oil drilling off of Florida coasts.  This one too.

This is a petition for a federal ban on offshore drilling.

Far more important than signing a petition is calling and writing your representative.  Click the links to get contact information for your congress person and senator.  You can also call the congressional switchboard at (202) 224-3121.  (I have that number saved in my phone.  lol)

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Donating to the campaigns of any of these officials will help ensure their progressive legislation moves America forward:

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D – CA)
Sen. Diane Feinstein (D – CA)

CFO Alex Sink (D – FL)
Sen. Bill Nelson (D – FL)

Rep. Kendrick Meeks (D – FL)
Rep. Corrine Brown (D – FL)

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D – OR)
Sen. Ron Wyden (D – OR)

Sen. Patty Murray (D – WA)

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