May 31, 2010
Barack Obama has been speaking out against the company responsible for this catastrophe. He condemned BP for the lack of safety at its installations, and also condemned Transocean, the platform operator, and Haliburton, another contractor involved in the well on the eve of the explosion. Obama even questioned the federal government ... under Bush and his predecessors, of course. He said, “For too long, for ten years or more, a cozy relation was established between the oil companies and the federal agency that permits them to drill.”
But Obama followed that same cozy relationship by naming Ken Salazar, a man tied to the oil industry, as his Secretary of the Interior. One of the agencies that Salazar supervises, Minerals Management Service (MMS), continued to give drilling permits when the oil companies asked for them, without making them respect environmental regulations.
Since January 2009, when Obama took office, MMS delivered at least 349 drilling permits, including the one that led to the BP catastrophe, which killed 11 people and wounded 17.
Less than a month before the explosion, Obama announced his intention to open up drilling zones in the western part of the Gulf of Mexico and in Alaska – zones that had been protected by a moratorium on oil drilling for the last 20 years. He justified this vast expansion by claiming it was needed to protect national security and energy independence; to get the economy moving and create jobs; and even to create clean energy! And he bragged about how safe this drilling had become: “Under the leadership of Secretary Salazar, we’ll employ new technologies to reduce the impact of oil exploration. We’ll protect areas vital to tourism, the environment and our national security.”
The words were hardly out of Obama’s mouth when BP’s “new technology” platform exploded.
Today, Obama says he wants to make those responsible for the catastrophe pay the costs, and to change the law which limits their liability to 75 million dollars, by raising the level to 10 billion dollars.
That’s only a pittance of the damage done, and nothing but a smokescreen besides.
The role of government – whether under Bush or Obama – has been to justify and enable the capitalists’ uncontrolled exploitation of people and nature.