Cross-posted from the Wonk Room.
The foreign oil giant BP has launched a new series of advertisements to contain the damage to its reputation and stock price from its uncontrolled disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. In a television advertisement that aired nationally this morning, BP CEO Tony Hayward promotes how his corporation is running the response to the environmental calamity it caused. Unlike the attitude expressed in interviews when he dismissed the scope of the disaster and complained that he wanted his life back, Hayward tells the camera he is “deeply sorry” for this “tragedy that never should have happened.” With the cries of seabirds in the background, he expresses an air of authority, lumping “volunteers” and “the government” together in his thanks for their help:
The gulf is home for thousands of BP employees and we all feel the impact. To all the volunteers and for the strong support of the government, thank you. We know it is our responsibility to keep you informed and do everything we can so this never happens again. We will get this done. We will make this right.
While BP is on the hook for the billion-dollar costs of the cleanup, it still has money to conduct a broad greenwashing campaign with the support of an army of lobbying and public relations firms and former Dick Cheney press secretary Anne Womack-Kolton. Full-page ads in major newspapers promote the slogan: “We will get this done. We will make this right.”
Hayward’s recognition of BP’s “responsibility to keep you informed” flies in the face of reality, with its demonstrated willingness to misinform the public, lie to Congress, and restrict media access to the scene of its crime.
Hayward’s lack of respect towards the United States government’s authority reflects his company’s position. In addition to the failed efforts to stop the leaks, BP controls millions of dollars of claims processing, thousands of environmental contractors on land and sea, telephone lines, volunteer assistance, access to the disaster site, and data collection. The Center for American Progress recommends that the government take control of the cleanup, instead of keeping the perpetrator in charge.
It is, of course, too late to “make this right” for the 11 workers who died in the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon, or for the countless animals and miles of shoreline that have been killed by BP’s toxic sludge.
The gulf spill is a tragedy that never should have happened. I’m Tony Hayward. BP has taken full responsibility for cleaning up the spill in the gulf. We’ve helped organize the largest environmental response in this country’s history. More than 2 million feet of boom, 30 planes, and over 1,300 boats are working to protect the shoreline. Where oil reaches the shore, thousands of people are ready to clean it up. We will honor all legitimate claims, and our clean-up efforts will not come at any cost to taxpayers. To those affected and your families, I’m deeply sorry. The gulf is home for thousands of BP employees and we all feel the impact. To all the volunteers and for the strong support of the government, thank you. We know it is our responsibility to keep you informed and do everything we can so this never happens again. We will get this done. We will make this right.