It’s been over two years since the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe began, and finally the first BP official has been arrested. Kurt Mix, a former BP engineer, has been charged with intentionally destroying evidence—in this case hundreds of text messages sent to a supervisor that painted a different picture of the extent of the disaster than what BP was reporting to the public.
“The messages, some of which investigators recovered, showed that BP knew that the leak was more than three times larger than its official estimates and that its ‘Top Kill’ effort to plug the well at the end of May 2010 was failing.” While BP told reporters that 5,000 barrels of crude oil were being spilled every day, Mix was texting, “too much flowrate - over 15,000″ to his seniors.
Kurt Mix is charged with two counts of obstruction of justice and faces 20 years in prison as well as a $250,000 fine per charge.
To me, Mix’s arrest represents the mismanagement and irresponsibility surrounding America’s largest maritime oil spill in history. The gulf is still reeling from the disaster and yet, as of October 2011, the government has approved BP’s next drilling venture in the Gulf stating that, “BP has met all of the enhanced safety requirements that [The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement] have implemented and applied consistently over the past year.”
Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), expressed concern in a statement last fall: “The fact that BP is getting a permit to drill without yet paying a single cent in fines is a disappointment, and does not serve as an effective lesson of deterrence for oil and gas companies.”
In two years, lawsuits have been filed and settled, fingers have been pointed and fines have been charged. But ultimately, it seems that, as for oil drilling, it’s back to business as usual. President Obama boasts of his drilling expansion: “Under my administration, America is producing more oil today than at any time in the last eight years.” And Mitt Romney plans on plowing right past environmental protection regulations all together: “I can cut through the baloney of the task force and just tell him ‘Mr. President, open up drilling in the Gulf’…let’s also start opening up our natural gas resources instead of having it held up by the EPA.”
Will history repeat itself? We have learned and (re-learned) the hard way that offshore drilling is dirty, dangerous and deadly and yet politicians keep signing off on new projects that might seem like a good idea today but spell doom for tomorrow.