Oil spill is ‘worst environmental disaster’ to hit US

The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico following the fatal explosion on the BP leased Deepwater Horizon oil rig has exceeded the Exxon Valdez catastrophe of 1989, when eleven million gallons of crude oil devastated the pristine Alaskan coastline. A White House energy official described the Gulf of Mexico spill as the worst environmental disaster ever to affect the USA. So far, all of BP’s efforts to plug the leaking well – located 5,000 feet below the surface of the sea – have failed.

President Barack Obama, under pressure of mass outrage, has said he ‘won’t lift the boot off BP’s throat’ until the situation is rectified. But Obama is all too aware that he can do little to halt this unfolding disaster. The lack of any contingency planning to deal with this type of disaster underlines the weakness of the US administration.

The political reality is that Big Oil and US governments have always colluded, with the profits from selling fossil fuels satisfying their respective interests.

Only one month before the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded killing eleven workers, Obama announced the expansion of drilling licences operating off the US’s Atlantic and Alaskan coastlines.

Offshore deepwater drilling contracts – with oil rigs operating at the limits of existing technology – are managed by the US federal regulatory agency, Minerals Management Services (MMS). However, MMS is hopelessly compromised by its remit to both oversee safety in the oil industry and to collect tax revenues from the industry, which amounts to $13 billion annually.

Media reports refer to lax safety standards at the MMS, with oil companies routinely filling in their own safety forms. And, according to The Guardian newspaper, staff at MMS “accepted tickets to sporting events, lunches and hunting trips from oil and gas firms” (29/5/10).

The exposure of clean-up workers to the oil and to the chemical dispersants being used on the oil slick is causing health problems.

So far five oil rigs in the Gulf have been shut down following the spill after workers became ill. And seven clean-up workers on a boat had to be take to hospital after complaining of nausea, headaches, burning eyes and chest pains. Incredibly, US government officials told reporters that sunstroke could have caused the workers’ sickness!

Alarmingly, BP has threatened to sack any oil clean-up worker who turns up to work wearing a respirator, according to Clint Guidry of the Louisiana Shrimp Association.

The Gulf of Mexico oil spill was a disaster waiting to happen. Big Oil is increasingly drilling in deep water conditions because ‘peak oil’ is rapidly approaching, ie the point in time when the maximum rate of global oil extraction is reached.

But instead of governments taking over the profit hungry energy giants and switching energy sources away from fossil fuels to sustainable and renewable energy supplies, they remain beholden to Big Oil.

Clearly, only workers’ governments with socialist energy policies could protect the environment.

Total
0
Shares
Previous Article

Fight BT’s National Pay Deal

Next Article

Education under attack!

Related Posts

Greece – Hundreds of thousands join public sector strike against savage austerity plans

EU ‘rescue’ comes with ruthless “stringent conditions – workers’ mass resistance must continue!

Hundreds of thousands of public sector workers took strike action in Greece, on Wednesday 10 February, in an impressive show of strength against the social democratic PASOK government’s draconian social cuts package.

An estimated 75% of public sector workers took part, rising to 90% amongst bigger concentrations of workers in the state sector. Two demonstrations by trade unionists and workers were also held in Athens, despite heavy rain, with a total of around 15,000, which are big demonstrations compared to similar protests in recent years, particularly given the bad weather conditions.

Kazakhstan – Lawyer attacked and arrested in run-up to Euro MP’s visit

Urgent protests needed

At nearly midnight (local time) on August 28, at the bus station in Kokchetava in Northern Kazakhstan, a violent attack and arrest were carried out on the human rights defender, Vadim Kuramshina. Vadim was just leaving to meet up with Joe Higgins, Member of the European Parliament for the Socialist Party (CWI Ireland), arriving on a visit from tomorrow (Monday).

Angry CWU telecoms members meet

CWU telecoms conference reflected the anger of members in the industry. Motions calling for changes to the attendance agreements that have been used to invoke the use of compulsory overtime were carried. Motions calling for pension increases to be linked to RPI and for changes to the 'parking at home' agreements, which are being used to force members to work extra hours, were also carried.