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June 08, 2010

A Drop in the Bucket

Last week, I saw for myself what BP's carelessness has done to the wildlife in the Gulf. It was gut wrenching. In spite of BP's alleged efforts to limit the access of journalists and photographers, many Americans are also seeing images from the Gulf that are haunting -- oil-smothered birds, dead marine mammals, toxic sludge.

BP, of course, understands the power of such images. Perhaps that's why they announced today that the profits from all recovered oil would go to a BP-created wildlife fund.  How much money that might be, they couldn't say. 

What it tells me, though, is that BP still hasn't learned the difference between a PR stunt and taking real responsibility. Offering the profits from recovered oil isn't just inadequate -- it's insulting. They should pay the full cost of all the wildlife and habitat rescue and restoration. BP should also pay the full cost of the devastation they have wrought upon the economy of the Gulf Coast.

If BP genuinely cared about wildlife in the Gulf, they’d allow inspectors to measure exactly how much oil continues to gush into the Gulf's waters, and they'd put money into a trust to finance independent scientific studies on the impact of the nearly one million gallons of toxic dispersants that have been released thus far.

If BP truly wanted to make amends to U.S. taxpayers, not only would they pick up the full cost of this recovery but they would also refuse any further government subsidies.

Finally, if BP wanted to regain the confidence of American citizens that it was not seeking to benefit from a continued cozy relationship with regulators, it would make no further political contributions to candidates. We need to separate oil and state.

When all is said and done, billions of dollars will be needed to make things right. The millions that BP makes from selling the same oil that's killing pelicans and dolphins right now would be only a drop in that bucket.

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Michael Brune

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