Regulations, Contractors, and the Gulf Oil Spill

BP blame game
BP blame game

New Orleans The wave of news comments was provoked by the release of an almost 400 page report by the National Oil Spill Commission in Washington head by former Florida Senator and Governor Bob Graham and former Environmental Protection Agency chief William Reilly during Republican administrations.  In the inimitable words of Aaron Viles of Gulf Restoration Network, this commission was “not a bunch of bomb throwers.”  Their recommendations included improved regulations, dedication of a significant percentage of the BP settlement money to Gulf Coast restoration, and raising the liability cap on companies making Tr mess.  Reasonable observers might even say that the Commission had not gone nearly far enough, especially when the front page picture on my hometown paper, The Times Picayune, had a fisherman on his knees begging Kenneth Feinberg, the fund administrator, to release promised money since he was without heat and utilities now.   Even Senator Mary Landrieu, who Lord love her, almost never misses an opportunity to apologize for the oil companies, expressed herself satisfied with the report, so how could anyone be against moving forward on what is bound to be weak tea.

Most interesting to me were Reilly’s comments about contractors where a lot of the accountability needs to be increased.  He noted that the big companies “dependency upon contractors who operate in virtually every one of the world’s oceans” is at the core of the problem.  He reasonably doubts that this could be anything but a “systemic problem,” because to do so we would have “to believe also that Halliburton would only have supplied faulty cement to BP.  Or that Transocean, on any other rig but a BP rig, would have detected gas rising in the drill pipe.”  The problem of down-the-chain lack of accountability and reliance on contractors keeps cropping up everywhere whether in the Gulf or Iraq or Afghanistan or anywhere on the service and production chain.  This is huge, unanswered problem in modern social and economic society where responsibility and accountability is totally sacrificed at the altar of cheaper pricing, shady dealing, and “who me, not me, who you, not you” finger pointing and foot shuffling.

So much is at stake in every endeavor that we just have to do better!

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Make a Deal With Mary Landrieu

landrieuNew Orleans Senate debate is scheduled for tonight on Senator Reid’s patchwork quilt healthcare bill and as everyone head counts central figures become the ridiculous Joe Lieberman from Connecticut, the uncertain Blanche Lincoln preparing for a re-election campaign in Arkansas, and the go-with-the-wind Mary Landrieu from Louisiana, where I pull a lever.

I’m betting we get Mary’s vote on healthcare and she bails on labor law reform and maybe later on immigration, if it ever comes to a vote.

The maverick vote from Republican outlier Joseph Gao for the House healthcare reform who was the only member of the GOP to break ranks and vote with the Democratic majority helps pave the way for Landrieu partially because it once again underscores how deeply and desperately there is an understanding of the healthcare crises in Louisiana and the number of people left out of any insurance coverage.  It also helps that abortion funding has become embattled in the House healthcare package.  This has been the one area where Mary has consistently, and to her credit, actually showed conviction and political courage by standing firm with her base of women support even when it has encouraged the wrath and threats of excommunication from the Catholic hierarchy in Louisiana.  It would be hard for her to find forgiveness if she went south on this.  She also knows that if she votes for the Reid bill she can hide behind the state “opt out” on the public option, because she knows that’s going to be a huge fight in Louisiana, and she can say she’s on the sideline, “it’s up to Louisiana,” and take a walk on that.

Continue reading “Make a Deal With Mary Landrieu”

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