Can BP and Friends Cover Up Their Mess?


Cindy Casares Portrait

If you need an example of why the Occupy movement exists, look no further than the Gulf Coast and Big Oil’s shameless attempts to cover up the largest offshore environmental disaster in American history.

Late Monday, citing rules of evidence and other procedural issues, BP, offshore drilling company Transocean, and cement contractor Halliburton—the three companies responsible for the April 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion in the Gulf of Mexico— filed motions in a New Orleans federal court to keep crucial government reports out of a civil case set for February. BP stands to lose billions in the federal civil trial that will assign percentages of fault to each of the companies; the proceedings will also determine whether there should be a limit to how much companies will pay. Looking to shield itself from as much blame as possible, BP also wants plaintiffs’ lawyers barred from using past criminal, civil and regulatory proceedings against them.

BP and its cohorts aim to have the two most comprehensive federal investigations of the spill left out of court. Those include a September 2011 report conducted by the Joint Investigation Team of the U.S. Coast Guard, and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, which says that BP bears ultimate responsibility for the explosion that killed eleven rig workers, spilled more than 200 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico and caused untold amounts of environmental damage. The other is a report by President Obama’s National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling, which concluded that all the companies involved are responsible for the mess.

A documentary about the Deepwater Horizon oil spill recently premiered at the New Orleans Film Festival. The film, The Big Fix, alleges that Deepwater Horizon is the biggest federal environmental cover up in the history of our country.

“Behind the IRS, the collection of offshore oil field revenues and royalties is the second largest generator of money for the United States government,” says the trailer. “Today the elected officials don’t get elected unless they have huge war chests of money. Most of that comes from corporations and almost all those corporations are closely tied with oil.”

If what this film alleges is true, (and since BP declined to participate, we have only Louisiana filmmakers Josh and Rebecca Tickell’s vision to contend with), Americans have more than financial reasons to wake up from the illusion of a democratic, two-party system.

“When we hear from the media, from the government that the oil is gone, we’re being lied to,” adds oceanographer Jean-Michel Cousteau.

With evidence mounting that the Deepwater Horizon spill caused widespread ecological damage we can’t even begin to comprehend yet, (large numbers of skin lesions on fish and hundreds of dead dolphins washing ashore are only the beginning), Texans would do well to pay attention to what Big Oil and the federal government are doing in their backyard.