It's been one month since the Deepwater Horizon oil rig blew up, and oil is still leaking at an astonishing rate. Entire state economies might be crushed, and whole ecosystems wiped out. So whose fault is it?
Do you remember the Gulf of Mexico? It used to be a pretty nice stretch of water, down near Louisiana. Now it is the "The Official Deepwater Horizon Oil Leak Family Fun Park." BP, which was leasing the exploded rig from TransOcean, won't even let scientists down near the leak to figure out exactly how much Gulf of Mexico is screwed. (Our unofficial estimate: "a lot.")
So who's at fault? BP says it's Halliburton, or maybe TransOcean, or Cameron International, or God, maybe, or literally anyone but BP. The truth? They're all at fault. (Well, except God, who was just doing what he always does.) Here's the rogue's gallery of people responsible for the Deepwater Horizon.
Chris Oynes, associate director of Offshore Energy and Minerals Management: Chris Oynes, a stellar exemplar of civil service, once cost taxpayers $10 billion dollars by forgetting to force oil companies to pay royalties on the oil they found in the Gulf of Mexico. And then, because of our awesome meritocratic government, he was put in charge of all offshore drilling! Don't worry about the poor oil industry, though: Oynes was "close to the industry officials he regulated." Which is maybe why he allowed the oil companies to fill in their own inspection reports, in pencil, to be traced over by government regulators in pen.
Former Vice President Dick Cheney: What a surprise, that Dick Cheney would be involved with one of the worst environmental catastrophes in U.S. history. The man behind such other unmitigated disasters like "The Bush Presidency," "Shooting His Friend in the Face" and "Liz Cheney" once ran an energy task force that decided that the $500,000 remote shut-off switches that could have stopped the leak were a little bit too expensive for struggling oil companies like BP. Ha, did I say "struggling"? I meant, "immensely profitable."
Marc Edwards, Halliburton's senior vice president for Completion and Production: It's like a family reunion! Halliburton, who are basically an incredibly scary energy conglomerate from a sci-fi movie, but in real life, were supposed to cement the drill hole at the Deepwater Horizon rig—an operation that's part of their Completion and Production division. What could go wrong, when you hire a company whose previous shoddy cement work possibly caused a 1.2 million-gallon spill in the East Timor sea?
BP CEO Tony Hayward: A long time ago—OK, just a few years ago—BP branded themselves as the hip "green" energy company that lived in Portland and rode a bike to work and drank kombucha tea. What happened there? Tony Hayward took over! Hayward shut down all the alternative energy programs under the company's aegis and decided to go full speed ahead with the "fuck safety" strategies—exemplified in this memo—that have helped make the oil industry one of the globe's most-beloved. Not that BP was all that great when it had the green flower logo! But at least they were pretending.
John D. Carne, president of Cameron Drilling & Production Systems: Doesn't a blowout preventer sound like the kind of thing that would have help in this incident? You know, to "prevent" the "blowout." Too bad it was made by Cameron International, who according to the feds didn't calculate force properly. Carne, the head of the Drilling & Production Systems arm of Cameron, should probably think about hiring better math students next time he wants to make some blowout preventers.
TransOcean's Gary Leach: According to the Washington Post, Leach suggested in an trade journal article certain time-and-money-saving shortcuts, like leaving an upside-down valve on the blowout preventer to avoid having to take pipe out to test. Which certainly saved a lot of time, and money, when BP spent a crucial day after the explosion trying to figure out how the upside down valve was connected to the control panel.
Samuel Brown, father of the gas engine: This British jerk thought he was doing the world a favor when he invented the first fuel-powered internal combustion engine in 1826. Almost two centuries later, America is incredibly fat and all our birds are covered in oil. Thanks a lot, Samuel.
President Barack Obama: It's not really Obama's "fault" that everyone ignored regulations and safety considerations in a magical quest to make as much money as possible. But let's not forget the time he stood in front of a big military jet to let us all know that the path to American energy security was massive, untested, unsafe drilling operations just a few hundred miles off some of our most beautiful shores.
You, and your insatiable demand for cheap gasoline: Good job! I hope you are enjoying your warm house and efficient transportation options.
Who did we leave out? Please sling more blame in the comments.