WBEZ | BP oil spill http://www.wbez.org/tags/bp-oil-spill Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en The Deepwater Horizon oil spill: one year later http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-04-21/deepwater-horizon-oil-spill-one-year-later-85495 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-April/2011-04-21/112582884.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The Deepwater Horizon oil rig, owned by British Petroleum, exploded off the Louisiana coast one year ago this week. The blast killed 11 crew members and released millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, and was the largest oil spill in U.S. history. Yesterday, on the one year anniversary of the disaster, BP and its partners filed more than 100 billion dollars in lawsuits against Transocean Ltd., Halliburton and Cameron International, three of the main contractors it partnered with on the Gulf oil rig. BP singled out Halliburton, accusing it of concealing critical information which could have prevented the disaster. But&nbsp;<a href="http://www.tyrannyofoil.org/" target="_blank">Antonia Juhasz</a>, director of energy program at <a href="http://www.globalexchange.org" target="_blank">Global Exchange</a> and author of the book <em>Black Tide: The Devastating Impact of the Gulf Oil Spill</em>, believes that<em>&nbsp;</em>events of the BP annual shareholders conference in London (from which she just returned), are a better indicator of the problems surrounding deep water drilling. At the conference, Juhasz emphasized that the,&nbsp;"Oil had not gone away, their problems had not gone away, and BP had not lived up to their financial or legal, or even moral obligations in the gulf coast."</p><p>Though all shareholders were welcome at the conference, a delegation of Gulf Coast residents that were directly harmed by the oil spill were denied access to the meeting, which included members of the <a href="http://www.louisianashrimp.org/">Louisiana Shrimp Association</a> and <a href="http://louisianaoysters.org/members.php">Louisiana Oyster Task Force</a>. Juhasz decided to protest their exclusion by reading some of the words of Keith Jones, whose son Gordon had died aboard the the Deepwater Horizon:"BP sacrificed my son’s life for greed. And cut corners, and cut cost, and rolled the dice with the lives of the people on the rig, and they lost. And Gordon lost his life."</p><p>Juhasz describes BP's mindset as "we’re not changing our ways and we’re moving forward," and believes that their annual report should not have been accepted&nbsp;"because it did not demonstrate that the company has changed their ways," specifically citing their Texas City Refinery explosion in 2005. Juhasz says that though a response to the Texas City explosion was to put in new management and safety structures, such structures have not been implemented, and a continued emphasis on cutting costs "while pushing risks" led to the Deepwater horizon disaster.</p><p>Speaking of the political ramifications, Juhasz believes that "the middle ground that the Obama administration is trying to strike is between safety and the oil industries interests." But the damage that has been done environmentally has yet to be fully determined; Dr. Samantha Joye, a marine scientist who has been studying the oil damage up to 80 miles away from the site, has found that it is the bottom of the ocean that has received the most damage. Not enough testing has been done, however, to know how the spill will impact animal and plant life long-term, not to mention the combined affect of oil and dispersant in seafood over the coming generations.</p><p>Ultimately, the goal of oil companies like BP is to continue deep water drilling. There are 148 deep water drilling sites active now, but the regulations controlling them were drafted 50 years ago for shallow water drilling (a difference of 5000 to 400 feet). Additionally,&nbsp;Juhasz believes that arguments focused on drilling as a means to support local economies are weak. In Louisiana, for example, drilling accounts for only 8 percent of the GDP, and the oil that is drilled does not necessarily stay in the United States. "Transitioning away from these operations" needs to be the focus, Juhasz said.</p></p> Thu, 21 Apr 2011 16:18:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-04-21/deepwater-horizon-oil-spill-one-year-later-85495 A guide to the many inquiries into the BP oil spill http://www.wbez.org/story/bp/guide-many-inquiries-bp-oil-spill <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/BP America.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>It can be confusing to keep track of all the groups investigating the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.</p><p>For example, the U.S. Chemical Safety Board is holding a public hearing on the disaster Wednesday, looking at how other countries regulate offshore drilling. And its investigation is one of at least five government inquiries into the Deepwater Horizon explosion and spill.</p><p>So you can imagine how Michael Bromwich, the country's chief offshore regulator, feels.</p><p>"I didn't design the world of many investigations, but I have to deal with it," says Bromwich, director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement.</p><p>Bromwich's agency is conducting a joint investigation with the Coast Guard. Like all the government investigations, the goal is to learn what caused the disaster, and how to prevent similar ones in the future. But each of the agencies have weaknesses that leave room for others to come in and argue they could do a better job.</p><p><strong><a href="http://www.oilspillcommission.gov/">President's Oil Spill Commission</a></strong></p><p>This is the highest-profile investigation. It's expected to be the first to release its final report, next month.</p><p>While the commission is billed as bipartisan, it's clear the oil industry feels under-represented on it: The panel is dominated by those concerned more with the environment than making money by drilling for oil.</p><p>Some oil industry insiders will talk about their concerns off the record, but not openly. Dan Kish, senior vice president of the free-market Institute for Energy Research, thinks he knows why.</p><p>"When a cop pulls you over, you can present your papers and be nice," Kish says, "or you can start swearing at the policeman and wait for the ticket to be issued."</p><p>Oil companies don't have much to gain by complaining about the makeup of the presidential commission, Kish says. But he thinks it's surprising there are no technical experts from the oil industry on it.</p><p>Environmentalists say that would be like giving a defendant a seat on the jury.</p><p>"I think their argument is emblematic of the coziness that they might like to have with their regulators," says Jackie Savitz, senior scientist and campaign director with Oceana, "and a type of relationship that they seem to have had in the past, which may have led to some of the problems that we're beginning to understand."</p><p>Even if the commission members themselves don't, for the most part, have close ties to the oil industry, Savitz says that it's clear the commission's staff has been working closely with the industry.</p><p><a href="http://www.wadisasternews.com/go/site/3043/" target="_blank"><strong>Coast Guard/Bureau of Ocean Energy Management</strong></a></p><p>This is another high-profile investigation, but some have questioned whether the Coast Guard and Bromwich's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management can be self-critical enough. Both agencies played roles in regulating the companies involved and in responding to the Deepwater Horizon incident.</p><p>"People will be able to see from the report whether we are tough on our own people or not," Bromwich says. "I believe that organizations have the capacity to investigate themselves."</p><p>The report from the Coast Guard/BOEM investigation is due in April, right around the one-year anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon blowout and oil spill.</p><p><strong><a href="http://www.nae.edu/Activities/Projects20676/deepwater-horizon-analysis/36918.aspx">National Academy of Engineering</a></strong></p><p>The Department of the Interior also has asked this group to conduct its own independent investigation.</p><p>An interim report released in November concluded the crew aboard the Deepwater Horizon missed signs that there were problems. A final report is due in June.</p><p><a href="http://www.csb.gov/investigations/detail.aspx?SID=96&Type=1&pg=1&F_All=y" target="_blank"><strong>U.S.</strong><strong> Chemical Safety Board </strong></a></p><p>This investigation has been the most controversial. The BOEM and some in the oil industry argue that deepwater oil spills just don't fall into the types of industrial chemical accidents the CSB is supposed to investigate. Differences appear to have been smoothed over for now, though the issue could still end up in court.</p><p>Some think the CSB's investigation could be valuable because the board has a lot of independence.</p><p>"Their board members are appointed to five-year terms, so they cross different administrations," says Lois Epstein, Arctic program director for The Wilderness Society.</p><p>Epstein says the CSB has significant technical expertise and experience looking at a company's safety culture. "A lot of their credibility is based on their reputation and their previous work," she says.</p><p><strong>Other Inquiries</strong></p><p>The Department of Justice also is investigating, in case there's reason to bring criminal charges. And Congress has various inquiries open.</p><p>The big question now is whether all these separate investigations will reach similar conclusions about what caused the Deepwater Horizon disaster. Copyright 2010 National Public Radio.</p></p> Wed, 15 Dec 2010 16:01:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/bp/guide-many-inquiries-bp-oil-spill