Obama’s BP Disaster Commission: Looking Forward with No Subpoenas

As promised Obama signed an executive order forming a presidential commission to study the BP disaster today. I thought it’d be instructive to compare what he just formed with what Edward Markey and Lois Capps proposed. Starting with this detail:

Sec. 4. Administration. (a) The Commission shall hold public hearings and shall request information including relevant documents from Federal, State, and local officials, nongovernmental organizations, private entities, scientific institutions, industry and workforce representatives, communities, and others affected by the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster, as necessary to carry out its mission. [my emphasis]

Obama’s envisioning this Commission “requesting” information from entities like BP and Halliburton. Capps and Markey, however, envision subpoenas:

(b) Subpoenas-


(A) IN GENERAL- A subpoena may be issued under this subsection only–

(i) by agreement of the Chairman and the Vice Chairman; or

(ii) by the affirmative vote of eight members of the Commission.

(B) SIGNATURE- Subject to subparagraph (A), subpoenas issued under this subsection may be issued under the signature of the Chairman or any member designated by a majority of the Commission, and may be served by any person designated by the Chairman or a member designated by a majority of the Commission.


(A) IN GENERAL- In the case of contumacy or failure to obey a subpoena issued under paragraph (1), the United States district court for the judicial district in which the subpoenaed person resides, is served, or may be found, or where the subpoena is returnable, may issue an order requiring such person to appear at any designated place to testify or to produce documentary or other evidence. Any failure to obey the order of the court may be punished by the court as a contempt of that court.

(B) ADDITIONAL ENFORCEMENT- In the case of a failure of a witness to comply with a subpoena or to testify when summoned under authority of this section, the Commission may, by majority vote, certify a statement of fact constituting such failure to the appropriate United States attorney, who may bring the matter before a grand jury for its action, under the same statutory authority and procedures as if the United States attorney had received a certification under sections 102 through 104 of the Revised Statutes of the United States (2 U.S.C. 192 et seq.).

Obama also has a different idea of who should serve on this committee, specifically providing for industry participation (which is good, because the Republican co-Chair of the commission, William Reilly, is a Director at DuPont and ConocoPhillips).

Sec. 2. Membership. (a) The Commission shall be composed of not more than 7 members who shall be appointed by the President. The members shall be drawn from among distinguished individuals, and may include those with experience in or representing the scientific, engineering, and environmental communities, the oil and gas industry, or any other area determined by the President to be of value to the Commission in carrying out its duties. [my emphasis]

Whereas Capps and Markey specifically prohibited those with a conflict of interest from serving on the commission.

(d) Prohibition on Appointment of Certain Individuals-

(1) IN GENERAL- Not more than two members of the Commission may be either of the following:

(A) An officer or employee of the Federal government.

(B) An individual who has ever had, or has pending, a contractual relationship with the Minerals Management Service.

(2) CONFLICTS OF INTEREST- No member of the Commission shall have ever had a relationship with the Department of the Interior or the Department of Homeland Security that the President determines to constitute a conflict of interest.

Finally, not surprisingly, Obama’s commission is rather, um, forward-looking as compared to Capps and Markey’s envisioned commission. Capps and Markey described the scope of the commission’s investigation this way (click through to see the very detailed bullet points laying out the scope of the investigation):

(1) INVESTIGATION OF CAUSES- The Commission shall conduct an investigation of the causes of the oil disaster, including an investigation of the following:

(A) The performance of BP Exploration and Production, Inc., Transocean, Ltd., and other entities affiliated with the Mobile Drilling Unit Deepwater Horizon.

(B) The compliance of such entities with Federal, State, and local laws and regulations, and their conformance with their own practices and industry practices.

(C) The performance of Federal, State, and local agencies responsible for oversight, inspection, and enforcement.

(D) The compliance of such agencies with Federal, State, and local laws and regulations governing their actions.

(2) EVALUATION OF IMPACT- The Commission shall evaluate the current and future impact of the oil disaster on the environment, economy, and public health.

(3) EVALUATION OF RESPONSE- The Commission shall evaluate the adequacy of the response to the oil disaster, including an evaluation of the following:


(4) DEVELOPMENT OF RECOMMENDATIONS- The Commission shall develop recommendations–


(5) EVALUATION OF IMPLICATIONS FOR OFFSHORE OIL AND GAS ACTIVITIES- The Commission shall evaluate the implications of the oil disaster, and any risk of other such disasters, for current and future offshore oil and gas activities by the United States. [my emphasis]

Whereas President “Looking Forward” Obama focuses primarily on ways to make drilling safer in the future–with no consideration of whether this massive catastrophe ought to make us reconsider our commitment to drilling in the first place.

(a) examine the relevant facts and circumstances concerning the root causes of the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster;

(b) develop options for guarding against, and mitigating the impact of, oil spills associated with offshore drilling, taking into consideration the environmental, public health, and economic effects of such options, including options involving:

(1) improvements to Federal laws, regulations, and industry practices applicable to offshore drilling that would ensure effective oversight, monitoring, and response capabilities; protect public health and safety, occupational health and safety, and the environment and natural resources; and address affected communities; and

(2) organizational or other reforms of Federal agencies or processes necessary to ensure such improvements are implemented and maintained. [my emphasis]

I’ve got a lot of respect for former Senator Bob Graham, the co-Chair of this commission, and hope he will insist on the independence and efficacy of this commission. Yet it looks to be, on its face, another one of those classic Presidential commissions designed to limit review, in this case, of our oil addiction and the problems it causes.

117 replies
  1. BoxTurtle says:

    So, with a federal response out of the question, I guess we turn to State AG’s for criminal charges.

    There’s too many victims. ObamaLLP is not going to be able to cover for the oil companies this time.

    This should really help incumbent Dems running for re-election. /s

    Boxturtle (Or is this Obama’s way of getting a more progressive congress via 11 dimensional chess?)

  2. oldoilfieldhand says:

    Thanks Marcy! Industry needs to be on this commission because of the need for expertise and information. President Obama does need to be selective about whom the administration appoints from the industry.

    • BoxTurtle says:

      Oh, he’ll be selective all right. But we’re not gonna like his selections.

      Boxturtle (Though he may throw us a bone somewhere)

      • fatster says:

        Relying on the industry (including allowing them to commandeer MMS) is what got us into this in the first place.

        • manys says:

          I don’t see what the big deal is, it’s just like including Bernie Madoff in Finance Reform or Jeffrey Dahmer and a coterie of gangsters to help reduce the murder rate in NYC. You want to go with experts, after all.

          • Teddy Partridge says:

            O.J. is still investing huge amounts of personal time off the golf course looking for the real killer. This is clearly the playbook BP has told Obama to work from.

        • bobschacht says:

          Relying on the industry (including allowing them to commandeer MMS) is what got us into this in the first place.

          This, of course, was a design feature of the Bush administration. By definition, to their way of thinking, all of the “experts” were in business and industry. No one who worked for the government could be expert in anything good. So, Bush spent 8 years getting rid of any real expertise the government had about anything. So, for dealing with the oil volcano, we turn to NOAA, but guess what? No experts, no equipment, no nothing.

          The first thing Ken Salazar should have done when the BP rig went down — or even while it was going down– should have been to call up the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and get them on the job ASAP. Its not like they haven’t been doing research on oil spills for decades. After all, these are the guys who run Alvin, the most famous deep sea submersible in the world. I’d have put key WHOI staff in the command center as principal advisers within the first week.

          But relying on the industry is also partly a legacy of the Exxon Valdez disaster. Congress in its wisdom decided to make industry responsible for cleaning up the messes it creates. That’s a two-edged sword.

          Bob in AZ

    • croghan27 says:

      Can say that I am entirely convinced by that rational, oldoilfieldhand. I would think that in academia (Obama’s homeland) or in various regulating bodies there would be more than enough expertise to fulfil any requirements and still not be tainted by corporate connections.

      From what I see only part of the investigation is in the technical area: what went wrong? and how did it happen? The other part is in the corporate governance sphere: How could drilling rules and norms be so avoided or circumscribed – where is the genesis of that? Certainly there are enough executives about that can give a knowledgeable and opinion in that area.

      Perhaps some kind of ‘observer’ status could be in place to provide immediate and specific intelligence – that cannot be gleaned by questioning and subpoenas if necessary. Things like the corporate mileau of BP that allowed events to unfold needs insiders. (If the technical and corporate sectors are found to be faultless, so be it, but an unbiased look is what is needed, not an apologetic one.)

      I would think the corporate base of the USA would have more than enough technical and general resources to avoid direct conflict of interests.

      • fatster says:

        But they also “have more than enough technical, [political] and general resources to avoid” having to be 100% accountable for what they’ve done.

      • bmaz says:

        Academia is NOT Obama’s homeland; Chicago politics is. Why on earth people insist on viewing Obama as some academic/Constitutional scholar is beyond me. He simply is not.

        • DWBartoo says:

          As you say.

          Obama is not an academic, he simply likes to surround himself with the “cream” of that particular crop (mixing the phormetas), Summers, Sunstein, Kagan, and so forth, each and all claimed to be the “best” and “brightest”.

          What else may be said of him, Obama certainly can recognize quality, especially if it is also, “astute”.


        • montanamaven says:

          Right. Obama taught some classes. A scholar publishes and comes up with new ideas or new takes on old ideas. Obama is not a scholar. Obama is a salesman who is given his product to market from his bosses. And he surrounds himself with fairly mediocre people who have been elevated and called the “best and brightest” but who are no different than the ambitious Tracy Flic in “Election”. They are cunning, but hardly intellectual. They lack common sense and lack empathy. They are self-absorbed to the point of narcissism. They are seriously flawed and warped.

          The Pecora Commission in FDR’s first term was successful in exposing the banksters because of Pecora, not the commission. We don’t need another stinking commission if we don’t have a new Pecora.

          • ThingsComeUndone says:

            Yeah and they are not Chicago Politicians either! I’m sick of the Media and the Right saying that our Fixers are not Obvious.
            Or they get indicted.

          • geminorange says:

            The Pecora Commission in FDR’s first term was successful in exposing the banksters because of Pecora, not the commission. We don’t need another stinking commission if we don’t have a new Pecora.

            And Richard Feynman is no longer with us.

        • croghan27 says:

          Sorry, bmaz .. Obama is not my President so I went to the lazy man’s resource, Wiki, that told me he spent a dozen years as a lecturer and Senior Lecturer at The University of Chicago Law School.

          I have no little respect for Oilfieldguy’s judgment – he has obviously spent years in the drilling of oil, and I in the refining of it.

          My point in the posting is that teh technical aspects can be and are well understood by many not directly involved with a specific oil firm and can be grasped through good questions and investigation.

          The knowledge base of the US, technical and managerial, is huge – and not circumscribed by or limited to, the oil giants.

          • bobschacht says:

            My point in the posting is that teh technical aspects can be and are well understood by many not directly involved with a specific oil firm and can be grasped through good questions and investigation.

            The knowledge base of the US, technical and managerial, is huge – and not circumscribed by or limited to, the oil giants.

            Yes, and I would start with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, which has decades of experience with oil spill research. The deep sea sub Alvin is their baby. Their silence during the last month has been, to me, quite curious.

            Bob in AZ

    • thefutureisnow says:

      Why can’t “information” and “expertise” come through testimony?

      And while we’re at it, what makes an EPA director and ConocoPhilips board member an “expert”? (If EPA directors are experts at oil gushers, oil rigs, oil extraction in deep waters, etc. then how could this have even happened? And if Reilly is so great at this, I’d suggest you read up on the aftermath of the Exxon Valdez catastrophe, which happened under his tenure. What kind of a job did he do, for example, with clean up? How did he follow up with longer-term consequences? Did he advocate for one instant that Exxon be fully responsible? And since when does sitting on a oil conglomerate’s board make someone all of a sudden “knowledgeable” about all of the above?)

      Sorry, don’t mean to be argumentative, truly. But cutting through the bull…this is a game of musical chairs, where someone with a cozy reputation within gov’t. gets invited, once leaving his Washington “home,” to lend prestige to a board while getting paid a ton of dough in the process, all the while maintaining his contacts and political connections so as to keep plentifull options open for nice “deals” down the road. And this appointment: probably exhibit #23.

      I wish you well, oil field hand.

  3. fatster says:

    Well, here’s another major step forward: (snark thingy goes here if we had one)

    Report: EPA officials mull sanctions against BPs US operations (subheading)

    Ya think?


  4. JohnLopresti says:

    I can picture the early 2001 energy taskforce wishlist highlighting a MMS regulatory easing. As I recall, when Crew*s call for records of those secret meeting settled in court, Crew still had an open door to try tp pry into the public domain much more than the eventually published lists of attendees, but Crew evidently has opted not to try to examine further the matter which it so dedicatedly pursued for years. I think opening some of those records as part of the current new formed commission*s work could provide some meaningful context for structuring both the story of how the DWH blowout occurred, as well as a framework in which the administration would pursue in a more safe manner its enunciated desire to foster subjecting large swaths of fairly pristine Alaskan marine wilderness to offshore oil-gas exploration-drilling.

  5. DWBartoo says:

    Subpeona powers would suggest that somebody did something wrong AND that someone, assessing “risk” should have imagined what is sneeringly referred to as, “… the worst-case scenario.”

    Now, because President Obama, does not believe that anybody did anything which could, even remotely, be considered “wrong” and because, obviously, in the supple, and multi-dimensional mind of our one, and only, President, no one could have imagined that the ding-danged BOP wouldn’t P the BO.

    The President would not like anyone (he is looking sternly at you) to get the wrong idea about this unfortunate, unexplicable, completely unavoidable unpleasantness on Mother Nature’s part, even if some are saying that God told her to do it. He is, after all, the principal “actor” in all this. Look what happened when His unseen Hand, mucked up on Wall Street.

    I tell ya, we gotta get better communications with “upstairs”. Maybe Bush II, who, we are told, talked with the Big Guy every day should, in honor of bipartisan-good-fellow-corporate-shipness, ring up the Lord and tell Him, in no uncertain terms, precisely what’s what?

    (The preceding snark is for entertainment porpoises only …)


  6. DWBartoo says:

    How may one look “forward” when everything is upside down and backwards?

    Talk about an awkward “positiion”.


  7. boltbrain says:

    Technically the two “entities”, the one envisioned in HR 5241, and the one ordered by EO whatever, can co-exist. Practically, they can not. I would argue that the EO commission on its terms is actually preferable to the HR one on its.

    Under Sec. 4 (c) of the EO:

    “In carrying out its mission, the Commission shall be informed by, and shall strive to avoid duplicating, the analyses and investigations undertaken by other governmental, nongovernmental, and independent entities.”

    I did a search on the PDF of the EO, and according to that, this is the only mention of the word “independent”.

    In contrast, the word “independent” appears 4 times in HR 5241, including twice in stating its purpose:

    “to establish an independent, nonpartisan commission </em"

    (all emphasis added)

    While under Sec. 3 (a), HR 5241 would establish its commission also "within the executive branch", it is technically possible to have two commissions on the same subject matter, each with its own authority.

    Moreover, the EO orders the commission created under its terms to "strive to avoid duplicating", among other "entities", a commission such as is envisioned in HR 5241, so, in theory at least, these would not necessarily be 'dualing commissions'.

    That does not mean having two complementary executive branch commissions would not create conflicts. For example, the Justice Department would be serving the EO commission in an advisory capacity, but would be acting in the context of that HR commission in a potentially adversarial capacity.

    One also might infer the president's inclinations from the differences in how each commission is to report.

    In the case of the EO Commission, it is to report "a final public report to the President … for consideration … within 6 months of its first meeting”.

    In contrast, the HR commission would be mandated to “submit to the President and Congress, and make concurrently available to the public”, interim reports “of immediate value” and its final report “no later than 9 months after the date of the enactment of this Act”.

    The inference there to be drawn is a preference for a non-confrontational, non-enforceable process with the executive branch in complete control.

    However, whereas there is nothing about the EO that is inconsistent with concurrent investigation and prosecution by an executive branch agency such as the Justice Department, implementing such “dueling commissions”, or even implementing the commission envisioned under HR 5241 in preference to the EO, would create conflicts and practical difficulties with such concurrent investigation and prosecution.

    There is nothing, at least nothing in the law, that would prevent Congress from setting up its own special joint committee to conduct its own inquiry.

    • gannonguckert says:

      As you say, two investigations could co-exist.

      Furthermore, I doubt very much that an Exec Order can grant subpoena power. That gets a bit deep in 16th century Vatican territory.

  8. Leen says:

    Obama Folks along the Gulf and across America are asking for “swift action” he can bury “swift”

    “perhaps other” “hold Washington accountable”

    He tripped over the “30 day” statement. 30 days?

    Can you imagine if he would use the same words when it comes to the fat cats on Wall Street

  9. Leen says:

    EW “I’ve got a lot of respect for former Senator Bob Graham, the co-Chair of this commission, and hope he will insist on the independence and efficacy of this commission. Yet it looks to be, on its face, another one of those classic Presidential commissions designed to limit review, in this case, of our oil addiction and the problems it causes.”

    Have been talking with my youngest daughter and lots of others about how we have heard very little out of this President about cutting back on our individual oil usage, examining our individual footprints. Very little. Have you ever heard this President say anything about walking, biking, using mass transportation? I have not.

    Thanks for this Ew

  10. freepatriot says:

    if the spill commission had subpoena powers, then the commission might decide to subpoena dead eye dick’s 2001 energy summit papers

    and we can’t have that

    makes me wonder what is in dead eye dick’s papers that would be so damaging

    pictures of the banquet, complete with cooked babies or something

    whatever it is, it’s gotta be bad

    (high everybody)

  11. fatster says:

    They’re definitely on a romp and roll. They’re now proposing to privatize part of public housing (and you know who will benefit from that) and that committee or commission thats meeting in private on Medicare and Social Security will no doubt have recommendations with further negative impact on the people of this country.

  12. prostratedragon says:

    Had a nice “who owns Chicago” moment from wikipedia’s main page today. Featured item: BP Pedestrian Bridge. Yes, that BP.

    Located in Chicago’s Millenium Park, the BPPB provides a connector over a very swift lakefront road to the Pritzker Pavilion, the cute little outdoor concert venue which was created to keep too many of hoi polloi from gathering at once on the downtown lakefront to hear something as the MP’s centerpiece.

      • prostratedragon says:

        Daughter, I believe. The shell is named for Jay; Penny was the national campaign chair and one of the supposed recruiters for Obama’s run, while her brother Jay Jr. was also involved in local campaigning.

        Correction: Penny Pritzker is daughter of another brother, Donald Pritzker. Her brother Jay is therefore not a true Jr. Jay was National Director for Hilary’s campaign at one time, but I’m pretty sure he edged away from that role rather early on. As with any large family, it’s hard to keep ’em straight.

    • greenharper says:

      Oh, prostratedragon, how lovely to see ‘hoi polloi’ without the redundant ‘the’! I like non-polluting, renewable energy, too.

  13. Hmmm says:

    Crossing-the-beams thought experiment: If USG operatives or contractors were to torture a detainee on a non-US-registry offshore oil rig anchored in international waters while exploiting a deposit leased by USG/DoI, would that detainee now (in light of the DC Circuit’s Bagram decision) have standing to sue in a US court? (For example, Deepwater Horizon was 130 miles offshore, and isn’t the territorial limit 50 miles?)

    Law o’ the Sea? Paging Cap’n Jack…

  14. onitgoes says:

    BHO just wants to look forward… to his next payola from BP.

    Thanks, oh great Hopey-Changey One. Thanks for nothing, which is exactly what you’re doing with this disaster: nada, zip, bupkiss.

  15. 300SDL says:

    Why do what’s right when you can just issue Sternly Worded Letters. Look how well it worked for Harry Reid.

  16. ThingsComeUndone says:

    Obama’s envisioning this Commission “requesting” information from entities like BP and Halliburton.

    And the GOP says he’s a Chicago Politician? Even the do gooders in Chicago are not that naive. No Chicago Pol expects cooperation without a crowbar and or a subpoena.

  17. ThingsComeUndone says:

    Obama also has a different idea of who should serve on this committee, specifically providing for industry participation (which is good, because the Republican co-Chair of the commission, William Reilly, is a Director at DuPont and ConocoPhillips).

    And this is not a conflict of interests ConocoPhilips is an oil company! Wether they drill oil or just buy the oil from drillers this effects them directly.

  18. ThingsComeUndone says:

    Whereas Capps and Markey specifically prohibited those with a conflict of interest from serving on the commission.

    So the conflict of interest was pointed out to Obama and ignored? Great more bad news!

  19. ubetchaiam says:

    “BP and Shell clashed with the British government in 1973 over the allocation of scarce oil supplies. BP’s chairman, Sir Eric Drake, refused to give priority to supplying the United Kingdom, despite forceful reminders from Prime Minister Edward Heath that the government owned half of the company.” should also shed some light upon BP’s rejection of the EPA edict.”

  20. ThingsComeUndone says:

    Whereas President “Looking Forward” Obama focuses primarily on ways to make drilling safer in the future–with no consideration of whether this massive catastrophe ought to make us reconsider our commitment to drilling in the first place.

    To be fair you can’t investigate the exact cause of the oil spill until you sent divers with cameras or hoist up the oil rig.
    Plus any delay means no rush to an innocent verdict and the longer the spill goes on the harder it will be to avoid a real trial politically.
    Obama is being to clever by half today.

  21. Oilfieldguy says:

    According to all current available data, I am somewhat convinced this was a human error caused disaster. Equipment and devices do what they were designed to do by people, and sometimes these devices are placed outside their limits of ability. This is a human decision. I feel offshore drilling can be done safely and with virtually no negative environmental impact. However, they are operating in an error free environment. This well bucked like a mule with stickers under its saddle for an hour and a half before she blew, not to mention a long history of gas kicks and lost circulation. Replacing the mud with salt water without testing the cement was insane and continuing to do so with bottom hole pressure is the sign of idiocy.

    • ThingsComeUndone says:

      Replacing the mud with salt water without testing the cement was insane and continuing to do so with bottom hole pressure is the sign of idiocy.

      If your right then is BP liable? Who how high up made this decision? Were they forced by higher ups to speed the job up wink anyway they could to stay on time on budget?

      • Oilfieldguy says:

        In this instance there is no higher authority than BP. The company man (who is BP) made the call. He may have consulted with onshore folks, but they would’ve been BP folks too. All roads lead to BP. They are the ultimate authority, all contractors, like Deepwater Horizon drillers and toolpushers, Halliburton cementers, ShlumberJay (phonetic oilfield spelling) cement testers, and by the way, Schlumberger folks testimony will be the barn burner here, all work for BP.

      • PJEvans says:

        They were already late and over budget (the drill hole having had some difficulties), so it was pretty much a ‘save what you can’ move.

    • Hmmm says:

      But then how can we ever get to safe offshore drilling, when there will always be greed-prone and idiocy-prone humans such as these in the loop?

      • Oilfieldguy says:

        Oversight and standards. The fines for this should so cripple BP as to force them to sell off most of their holdings just to pay it off. And please, no more snorting meth off of toaster ovens from MMS employees and extraction employees. And sex. Yeah, that should probably stop too.

        • Hmmm says:

          I like your optimism and wish I could believe any of that is in the realm of the possible. I hope for it, but my rational mind doesn’t foresee any of that happening in a meaningful way.

    • Teddy Partridge says:

      People weren’t paying attention. I’ve been at a workplace when the big-shots show up from headquarters to give out awards; it’s when you put the lowest worker bee at the front desk to say “They’re all in a meeting, can I take a message please?” and put all the phones on V=Voicemail.

      The folks who were highly trained to recognize the rig-as-bucking-mule spent those ninety minutes schmoozing with the suits, leaving their less-well-trained underlings to mind the store.

      And — likely — to die while senior employees escaped with the BP executives.

      Ya think?

      • Oilfieldguy says:

        Yes. I am aware of that. And maybe so many swells on the platform gave the Company Man the testicular fortitude to declare “tally ho.”

        • Hmmm says:

          Ah. So maybe this happened because the Company Man put his little career advancement goals ahead of the integrity of all life in the Gulf of Mexico.

          You’re right, it’s handcuffs time. Or did the Company Man not survive? Do we know his name?

  22. radhika says:

    Let’s save the nation a lot of useless fulminating. Amend the constitution to make explicit what we already know to be true: Corporations are sacred beings and shall not be constrained, annoyed or held accountable for anything. Ever.

      • Oilfieldguy says:

        and pursuit of happiness shall be defined as dying in the traces under the whip pulling the sled of our corporate fathers toward the horizon of their ultimate goal of profit nirvana.

  23. clemenza says:

    Obama’s going through the motions for appearances only.

    The commission will be a total whitewash because people will not be under oath. They can say whatever they want.

    The outcome will be alot of mumbo jumbo of the already obvious.

    Window dressing in a few areas, then business as usual.

    Obama is not going to do anything to curtail corporate malfeasance in the US. He’s just not interested in going after anyone except powerless, unseen individuals.

    • ShotoJamf says:

      America needs a lot of corporate execs in handcuffs. If there were any justice, Lloyd Blankfein (etal) would already have blazed a trail for Tony Hayward.

      I like the description of these exec types offered by Hedges earlier in the week:

      These deformed individuals lack the capacity for empathy. They are at once banal and dangerous. They possess the peculiar ability to organize vast, destructive bureaucracies and yet remain blind to the ramifications. The death they dispense, whether in the pollutants and carcinogens that have made cancer an epidemic, the dead zone rapidly being created in the Gulf of Mexico, the melting polar ice caps or the deaths last year of 45,000 Americans who could not afford proper medical care, is part of the cold and rational exchange of life for money.

      • Oilfieldguy says:

        I think its worse. Most of us live to make life better. We go to work with the idea of doing a good job. We have whelped a massive subset of humanids that attach themselves to a company–not to make the company better or prosperous or develop a better product, but to suck as much fucking money out of it and to stick in their pocket.

        Return to a 90 percent tax rate for incomes over–pick a figure. This will be all they can make, and anything left over would have to go elsewhere, you know, like wages or a better product. This will end good companies from becoming anemic and aid the middle class. Some call this redistribution of wealth.

  24. Teddy Partridge says:

    Surely Bob Graham will be the exception, since I presume the other six seats will be entirely reserved for Extractors and their Servicing Agents. I mean, environmentalists and fisherpeople, as well as anyone else whose life is directly affected by this accident — they are hopelessly conflicted and cannot be expected to act with the Requisite Seriousness and respect for our Corporate Overlords, right?

    We don’t need that kind of emotionalism cluttering up the President’s Panel.

  25. Hmmm says:

    Pack the Catfood Commission with bankers, pack the BP Commission with oilmen.

    Any scientists in the room? Repeatable experiment, anyone?

  26. patrickhenrypress says:

    The following was allegedly overheard during a phone call between the RNC and DNC, courtesy of a warrantless wiretap (of the Vice President’s office, ordered by the Vice President’s office, because he’d bugged so many offices by then that there was little else left to wiretap) sometime early in the last presidential election cycle. The speaker is not identified, but his voice seems hauntingly familiar.

    So, puny non-corporate citizens, you want to rid yourselves of those nasty old oilmen soiling your precious White House with their nefarious schemes of war and plunder? Ha! Wait until you discover the grand larceny brought on by our wonderful friends, corrupt investment bankers. Fools! Little do you know. A far greater oilman than the two patriotic Americans who’ve led us to glorious victories in the Middle East shall walk the petroleum sheened halls of our sublimely lubricated White House — and he shall not walk alone! Behold! We, the movers and shakers of the world, present the man of nuance and negotiation, the man who just can’t say no to a multinational in need, Barack O(ilman)bama and his Financial Experts from Hell! Bwahahahahahahahahaha!!!!!

    We need to legalize soma – er, pot – fast. Going forward, the nation is going to need some serious tranquilizing…

  27. Twain says:

    I wish the commission had the power to get Sir Eric Drake over here to testify. (God, I hate the British caste system.) I’d like to see a member of the British upper class turned inside out.

    • ShotoJamf says:

      Probably the guy who works here…

      I’m sure the commission will not rest until all the facts are out…

      Oh, and another magnum of Cristal for Mr. Hayward…

  28. tanbark says:

    Guys, I need a confirm here:

    Is it true that when the EPA, after getting scorched in the media for letting BP use Corexit, told them to go to a less harmful dispersant, BP essentially told them to go shit in their hat?

  29. snoboysdrift says:

    I would like to see Idaho’s glorious empty suit gov and senator Dirk Kempthorn testify on why his department
    never regulated anything other than who could attend their parties.

  30. Hmmm says:

    BTW a question’s been nagging me — how exactly is it that the US is in the business of licensing exploitation of undersea oilfields that lay outside of US territorial waters in the first place? (I expect there’s a good answer and I just haven’t read it.)

    • PJEvans says:

      It’s in the US ‘economic zone’. As I understand itm, it’s the area that we effectively control, out to about 200 miles.

      • fatster says:

        The history of territorial waters is quite interesting. Initially, they were about three nautical miles, since that was how far a cannonball could fly. Wouldn’t you know war would be a major component in determining the definition. Anyway, wiki has a good synopsis.

  31. Mason says:

    Obama wanted to make sure the Commission to Cover-up and Protect BP, Transocean, Halliburton, and the rest of the oil companies from having information made public that might help 11 widows and their fatherless children from being able to prove up their causes of action for wrongful death.

    Fuck the Goddamn Gulf of Mexico and everything that lives in or around it for fucking up my climate bill and fuck the dead coal miners in West Virginia, Kentucky, and Washington and their widows and kids for fucking it up too.

    We will look forward and not backward, even if I have to order every idiot who objects or resists my orders killed.

    Think. Predator. Drones.

    Fuck. You. America.

    “You don’t know the life of the mind. I’ll show you the life of the mind.”Fn

    Drill, baby. Drill!

    Fn: Barton Fink, Coen Brothers. Lines delivered by John Goodman

  32. Bluetoe2 says:

    Anybody want a first hand glimpse of the cult of Obama? Stroll over to HP, particularly any blog on the Gulf disaster. It’s largely a circle jerk of Obama love.

  33. Cynthia says:

    It appears that we’ve got a moral hazard problem in our oil industry, just as we do in our banking industry. So we must remove all traces of moral hazard from both industries before BP turns our coastal waters into a dead zone and Goldman drives our middle class into extinction. I suppose this is what disaster capitalism is all about with BP and Goldman, the two-headed vampire squid, being at the heart of it.

    • Hmmm says:

      No question that there’s a permanent structural moral hazard in that energy prices go up when production capacity goes down due to a well accident. I would suggest a windfall profit confiscation tax in all such circumstances, in order to remove this perverse incentive to precipitate disasters.

  34. JasonLeopold says:

    This was news to me (but may be old news to others), BP hired 9/11 commission member and ex-Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick

    Gorelick and her team have been closeted in meetings this week –many at the offices of BP–advising company executives about federal and congressional inquiries, including reportedly an initial Justice Department probe.

    • Teddy Partridge says:

      She’s a one-woman crime scene comin’ right atcha.

      The woman cannot tell the truth, she is morally incapable of it.

  35. Mason says:

    Under international law, every country has the right to claim a 3-mile territorial limit and no vessel under a foreign flag may cross that border without permission. From 3 to 300 miles, each country owns the seabed and any corporation seeking to drill beneath the seabed must pay a fee to do so and agree to abide by that nation’s laws.

    We may have agreed to a 200 mile limit in the gulf since I worked as a summer intern in 1971 in the Lands & Natural Resources Division at the Justice Department while I was in law school.

    The Deepwater Horizon’s well was approximately 50 miles from the closest land, which is part of Louisiana. Therefore, the federal government owns the seabed where BP drilled the well. Federal law applies.

    My take on this fiasco is BP realized that Obama is a doormat for sale. It paid his fee and expects him to deliver. He intends to do that and that’s why he ordered NOAA and the Coast Guard to follow BP’s orders. Now his commission is going to whitewash the whole mess, no matter if the gusher doesn’t stop for a thousand years and every living thing in the gulf perishes. This is why BP felt comfortable telling EPA to eat shit and die about the dispersant.

    BP’s intransigence suggests to me that it believes it’s fighting for its survival because it knows it can’t stop the gusher.

    Obama is a truly despicable coward and venal human being without values or principles and he is a clear and present danger to the survival of our planet and all of its life forms. No other human being comes close to challenging him.

    • bmaz says:

      The 200 mile “exclusive economic zone” for marine resources and mineral exploration is contained in the international law of the sea.

      • Mason says:

        Thanks, bmaz.

        This is dead serious shit, ain’t it?

        I don’t see any reason to be optimistic.

        • bmaz says:

          Yeah. You know, the next post above this one was written mostly tongue in cheek; but, crikey, there are not any rational solutions that appear in the mix. It is pretty sad such piss little thought and concern went into this all too obvious possibility. What now? I dunno.

          • DWBartoo says:

            They haven’t a clue, and the “best” suggestion (so far as “thought and concern”, the essence of reason, are of any moment), is doing NOTHING and letting things take their own course. Among the witticisms spouted by those “RESPONSIBLE” for this catastrophe, this amounts to sage advice.



      • DWBartoo says:

        That would be an international law that this nation wholeheartedly supports.

        Presumably, without question?

        Under international law, if such a thing is “covered”, is the US responsible for anything that “gets out” of control and escapes our national “territories, under the sea” and harms other nations?

        Or would BP be accountable?

        Ocean currents are acts of God, as are the winds … or so it will be claimed, what else have “they” got?


  36. Bluetoe2 says:

    Has anyone heard when the CEO of BP officially moves into the WH with BHO serving as his butler?

  37. lib4life says:

    The fact of the matter is Obama needs BP for their contributions to the democratic party. He is not going to cut off the hand that feeds him no matter what we say or how loud we say it. BP will get a slap on the wrist and it will be back to buisness as usual. They Win, Game over ! Thanks to President o-dumbo.

  38. ghostcommander says:

    We the People, especially those that live along the Gulf Coast, don’t need no d**n commission, we need people that wear those Damned badges! Where is Humphrey Bogart when we need him?

  39. readerOfTeaLeaves says:

    Well, hey.
    None of the AIG execs will be charged.
    So why bother with subpoenas for BP?

    We don’t want to use the law if anyone in power would be inconvenienced.
    Carry on…

  40. Leen says:

    And still no mention from our Prez or Reps about each of us cutting back on our individual use. Not a whisper. Just keep those pedals to the metal folks.

  41. alinaustex says:

    It might be possible to bomb this thing shut even a mile deep …
    Meanwhile what about class action suits by affected parties such as all commercial fishermen affected -would this not led to depositions that could yield indictable charges for criminal liablity ?
    And this would be a real good time for Senator Sessions to actually take up his ” law and order cudgel” and go after BP for destroying the Redneck Riviera down there on the Bama Gold Coast,
    Meanwhile Texas GovPerry who is ‘mulling’ a 2012 Presidential run has called the BP disaster an act of God -jeez ….

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