Business & Technology

Making money on oil disasters

Will BP take responsibility for the Gulf spill or squeeze profits from it?

This post is co-authored by Susan Lyon. ExxonMobil will convene its annual shareholders meeting in Dallas this morning as the magnitude of the ongoing BP oil disaster grows. This is a reminder that oil companies need to be held accountable for their actions—both while the oil gushes from the ocean floor and 20 years after the spill. The Exxon Valdez oil accident that slimed Prince William Sound in Alaska in 1989 is a chilling reminder of the need for government oversight and corporate accountability. Exxon and BP’s broken record Many would assume that BP—the company responsible for the Gulf Coast …

Dear BP: We do not live in the Gulf of Mexico. Sincerely, walruses

The 7 dumbest things in BP’s spill response plan

We do not live in the Gulf of Mexico, you stupid oil company.Oil companies are supposed to have spill-response plans prepared before they begin drilling in American offshore waters. Minerals Management Service safety regulators are supposed to scrutinize those plans before signing off on them. But it’s looking more and more like no one bothered to read BP’s backup plan before the Deepwater Horizon rig began drilling 5,000 feet below the ocean’s surface. Here’s the evidence: 1. BP mentions sea lions, seals, sea otters, walruses in its Oil Spill Response Plan for the Gulf of Mexico region. The geniuses who …

summertime and the system is wheezing

In wake of Gulf spill, should this be the summer of energy reform?

The New Yorker‘s Elizabeth Kolbert tells how the 1968 Unocal oil spill off the coast of Santa Barbara, Calif., spurred public outrage that prompted Congress and President Nixon to pass the National Environmental Policy Act and the Clean Air Act-cornerstones of American environmental law — and create the EPA. “BP’s Deepwater Horizon spill makes the Santa Barbara spill look like a puddle,” says Kolbert, yet it has not thus far jolted the nation into doing much of anything about its dependency on oil. She concludes with a call to action: The President needs to set higher standards-for his Administration, for …

gulf tee

Show how much you–and BP–care with a commemorative oil spill T-shirt

streetgiantIf you want to do something about the Gulf oil spill and you’re one of those people who likes to wear their heart on their sleeve, try this on for size: a commemorative T-shirt of BP’s legacy in the Gulf of Mexico. You’ll be giving the shirt off your back with every purchase, because all of your $25 will be donated to “charities involved in cleaning, preserving, and rescuing the gulf and its animals.” We’re assuming they don’t mean BP. Via League of Conservation Voters’ “Really? Seriously?” blog. ——————————————————————————————————————————————– Like what you see? Sign up to receive The Grist List, …

They're not all evil

Big companies help do something right in Canadian forest deal

Boreal forest in Canada — safe from chainsaws for now.Photo: ForestEthicsMy first job in the social change movement was working for Ralph Nader.  I was a lawyer, one of Nader’s Raiders.  Not in the ’70s when it was cool and people actually knew what that was, but in the ’90s, when it was decidedly not cool and my mother was sure I had lost my mind.  I left my high-paying K Street law firm to make less than half as much, traded my fancy office for a dingy cubical with walls made from boxes of books and stacks of old …

Woo capitalism!

Oil gusher forces State Dept. into awkward diplomacy with Cuba

Add this to every other sort of headache the Gulf of Mexico spill has caused: It’s now an international relations problem too. As Brendan DeMelle reports, the State Department has sent diplomatic notice about the spreading oil threat to Mexico, the Bahamas, the Marshall Islands, and even Cuba, a nation with which we do not have formal diplomatic relations: The State Department communicated with Cuba yesterday in a “good neighbor” gesture, according to Charles Luoma-Overstreet, State Department spokesperson for Western Hemisphere Affairs. Mr. Luoma-Overstreet told me that, under the terms of the Cartagena Convention, the nations have a duty to …

Electrifying car buyers

GM bets Volt will move Californians to buy American

Chevy hopes the Volt takes California by storm.Photo: Todd WoodyIf you happened by an empty parking lot near San Francisco’s waterfront baseball park Tuesday morning, you would have seen some people  putting a low-slung black sedan through its paces on a makeshift track outlined by fluorescent orange pylons. What was remarkable was not so much that the car — the Chevrolet Volt — was electric, but that it hailed from Detroit. Toyotas, Hondas, BMWs, and Mercedes rule the road in the Golden State’s coastal metropolises, where sightings of American sedans are about as rare as a California condor. Like Ford, …

Will we get fooled again?

BP: The gulf between image and reality

The devastating and escalating events in the Gulf of Mexico underscore an amazing collection of problems: reliance on polluting energy, absence of a coherent national energy plan, the problems with lax government oversight, and dozens of others. Perhaps most clearly, it shows the gulf we should have seen years ago between the image of BP and the reality of BP. This spiraling disaster might literally have never happened if BP had made a real and deep commitment to changing more than its logo. Almost 10 years ago, BP — the largest corporation in the UK — spent an extraordinary amount …

we're not gaffe-ing, we're crying

The three stupidest things said about the BP oil spill

Since the Deepwater Horizon oil rig went down in the Gulf last month, there have been two unstoppable gushes: one from the ocean floor and the other from the mouth of BP’s top executive, Tony Hayward. Here are three of his worst: 1. “The Gulf of Mexico is a very big ocean. The amount of volume of oil and dispersant we are putting into it is tiny in relation to the total water volume.” — Tony Hayward, May 13, 2010 2. “I think the environmental impact of this disaster is likely to be very, very modest.” — Hayward, May 18, …

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