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October 2, 2014

BP’s Greenwashing

You may have noticed a new PR campaign by British Petroleum carpetbombing our airwaves. Its laughable, self-congratulatory commercials attempt to portray one of the most notorious polluters in human history as a sort of Jaques Cousteau.

Unbeknownst to those of you constrained by reality, there is apparently an alternate universe wherein BP is all about abundant marine life, crystal blue waters, and photogenic young families frolicking amid aquatic activities. To hear them tell it, BP is the best thing to have ever happened to the Gulf Coast it devastated. You know, kind of like OJ Simpson introduced us to the concept of chivalry.

The BP disaster in the Gulf was not, of course, some unavoidable act of God. The company had previously been cited for numerous safety violations in its Gulf operations, had a poor safety record generally, and lied to its own investors about such matters. But apparently BP did not find it profitable and worth its time to operate in a responsible manner.

The company censored journalists trying to report on what was happening and has destroyed evidence of its crimes. Is it too much to ask that—if a foreign corporation is going to wreck our marine ecosystems and the Gulf Coast economy while shaking down U.S. taxpayers for billions in corporate welfare—it at least refrain from trampling the First Amendment rights of American journalists?

As Mayor Tony Kennon of Orange Beach, Alabama points out, “there is nothing that British Petroleum has ever done that was for us or because they love us or want to give us something. It’s because the law required them to.”

We Alaskans are no strangers to oil companies who are more interested in cleaning up their image than in cleaning up the waterways and marine life they’ve destroyed.

But if you do what BP has done to our nation, should you brag about the fact that afterward you were forced to do the bare minimum? And would the money you spend on producing and airing a lavish PR campaign not be better and more substantively spent on safety upgrades?

Thanks BP! (We're unlikely to see a cameo from this little guy in BP's slick new ads.)

Thanks BP! (We’re unlikely to see a cameo from this little guy in BP’s new ads.)

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17 Responses to “BP’s Greenwashing”
  1. le says:

    And just today we find out the oil is still possibly leaking and their still saying it came from the equipment left from the top kill method . But how much oil can be in that thing ? And the oil they found wasn’t degraded but fresh ? Hum …

  2. Mo says:

    Wotta surprise – BP’s execs aren’t the only ones to skate:

    http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/blogs/taibblog/outrageous-hsbc-settlement-proves-the-drug-war-is-a-joke-20121213

    But thanks to Breuer, we’re now in the business, officially, of jailing the victims and enabling the criminals.

    This is the disgrace to end all disgraces. It doesn’t even make any sense. There is no reason why the Justice Department couldn’t have snatched up everybody at HSBC involved with the trafficking, prosecuted them criminally, and worked with banking regulators to make sure that the bank survived the transition to new management. As it is, HSBC has had to replace virtually all of its senior management. The guilty parties were apparently not so important to the stability of the world economy that they all had to be left at their desks.

    So there is absolutely no reason they couldn’t all face criminal penalties. That they are not being prosecuted is cowardice and pure corruption, nothing else. And by approving this settlement, [Assistant US Attorney General] Breuer removed the government’s moral authority to prosecute anyone for any other drug offense. Not that most people didn’t already know that the drug war is a joke, but this makes it official.

  3. thatcrowwoman says:

    Those ads have been running here on the Gulf Coast for ages; plenty of $$$ for advertising when you’re making record profits, eh? Lots of the BP $ettlement $$$ are going to Travel & Tourism around here, too.

    And the oil continues to leak/spill/whatever in the Gulf of Mexico. Every storm stirs up the corexit-ed sludge that moulders in the deeps. Critters with mutations are not uncommon. We don’t eat Gulf seafood at our house anymore since the Deepwater Horizon blew out, but we did order some salmon from Vic at Ugashik Wild Salmon for some mudflats holiday Comfort & Joy.

    Speaking of Comfort and Joy, can you imagine the Private Sector jobs created if safety upgrades were enforced? Research and development, training and implementation. Actual, real private sector job creation, not just Republican smoke and mirrors. Good Science jobs, too, not just more low-paying travel and tourism jobs. I can see, also, too, Public Sector partnerships in Environmental Protection, Education, Energy, National Institutes of Health, National Parks…
    but maybe it’s just smoke & mirrors
    and stars in my eyes…

    thatcrowwoman

  4. David Brown says:

    This issue has only ONE side. No “balance” is required. BP made the mess and they can clean it up. Any other side is probably coming from BP itself.

  5. Mo says:

    Am not sure why the “if you don’t like [extractive industry here], but you use [necessary for daily life product here], then you’re a hypocrite” meme slithers around so much. We’ve all seen the mining/logging/drilling bumper stickers along the lines of ‘Like Driving a Car? Thank a Miner” etc etc

    It all reeks of defensiveness. And, as other posters have pointed out more ably than I could, it’s not all that great a rhetorical argument. Childish, in fact.

    It also reeks of propaganda.

    But what I really, really want to know, is why the corporate leadership of BP hasn’t faced charges of manslaughter due to reckless endangerment, and dismissal without a golden parachute due to colossal mismanagement. Why are they not facing decades in prison?

    • Alaska Pi says:

      It is a commonly used attempt to limit public conversation. While it is a fallacious line of reasoning, it works well enough, often enough that it hangs around messing up public discourse. All or nothing, black or white yap of this sort often puts others on the wrong kind of defensive when what is called for is breaking the false either/or dilemma by injecting the reality of many more options being available .
      My least favorite but very common Alaskan one is the we-can-talk-about-Native-subsistence-when-they-give-up-electricity-snowmachines-and-move-back-into-sod-houses-which-shows-they-really-need-it.
      A thousand Pffftt!s on that one .
      ————————————
      We can go after foremen and the like but not the

      “… corporate culture that values production over people,”

      http://www.msha.gov/MEDIA/PRESS/2011/NR111206.asp

      “MSHA concluded that the 29 miners died in a massive coal dust explosion that started as a methane ignition. While the investigation found the physical conditions that led to the coal dust explosion were the result of a series of basic safety violations at UBB, which PCC and Massey disregarded, the report cites unlawful policies and practices implemented by PCC and Massey as the root cause of the explosion – including the intimidation of miners, advance notice of inspections, and two sets of books with hazards recorded in UBB’s internal production and maintenance book but not in the official examination book. The investigation found that the operator promoted and enforced a workplace culture that valued production over safety, including practices calculated to allow it to conduct mining operations in violation of the law.”

      A lot of the changes we need are going to have to directly confront not only the current power brokers but our very own society’s notions about balancing economic activity against the rights of the larger community.
      Now-Senator Warren’s language about We built that! is a good place to start.
      Maybe we’ll be able to get those suckers someday if we work hard .
      Blankenship of Massey was allowed to retire and go off to resurface as owner of another coal concern.
      Needs to stop.

  6. Zyxomma says:

    BP: Blackened Pelicans? Broken Pescadores (fishermen)?

  7. mike from iowa says:

    I exercised my right to vote,does that mean I can’t criticize the dumb sob’s that get elected and enable BP to pollute and then lie about it? korporations owe allegiance to shareholders and their only concern is returning maximum profits to their shareholders. They spend obscene amounts of money to see that pols run interference with regulations so profits are maximized. I’d be willing to bet every pol in Alaska looks like an oil slick when submerged in a tub.They are all tainted. All pols in iowa smell like pigsh&t. That is the Amerikan way.

    • Alaska Pi says:

      dang straight, Mikey!
      and we don’t change things with our measly a** few personal bucks as consumers either-
      it is either large enough of an issue to pull enough folks together to boycott or it is open our mouths and holler out loud until we get the attention of the shareholders via consumer pressure and some drop in the bottom line.

  8. Mo says:

    Phew! I smell Troll!

    • Alaska Pi says:

      maybe, maybe not…
      sure a whiff of all or nothing, love it or leave it…
      I can still smell napalm
      even after all these years- whenever it all pops up in this form…

  9. Tektonak says:

    I will not defend or condone BP’s actions regarding how they’ve screwed up and have taken shortcuts, nor would I expect any reasonable person to do so. We should expect integrity from both large and small companies. But before any of you throw a tantrum about their profits or how all oil companies are evil, I hope you have completely freed yourself of all forms of fossil fuels and plastics. Otherwise, you are being quite hypocritical.

    • Thomas says:

      The notion that because you use a product you have no right to criticize its producer when they behave recklessly is dubious “logic” at best. If you drive a car, I imagine you’d still have issues with an auto company known for defective brakes.

      • Tektonak says:

        As I stated, I am not defending BP’s actions and also share your criticisms with how they’ve handled themselves with their short-cutting. Do I think the industry is evil for making a profit? No. And by buying products that they have developed, I’m showing that I support the industry and recognize the industry’s necessity. Oil companies provide a vital service to the developed world. You cannot both hate the industry and call for it’s demise AND support them by buying their products – that’s double speak. I challenge you to pick a side. If you truly feel that the oil companies are evil, damaging to the environment, and all around bad for everyone – then stop buying or using their products. Seems simple to me. If you’re not willing to take this challenge, you are just hot air.

        • Alaska Pi says:

          No.
          There are many sides rather than a mere 2 sides.
          The all or nothing argument is defective on multiple fronts.- the most obvious being that it is a false dilemma- a logical fallacy.
          One can both” hate the industry and call for it’s demise AND support them by buying their products”- we all do it all the time for various reasons, not the least of which is not having options otherwise and/or hoping to effect critical change in a method, industry, whatever by criticism which falls short of boycotting. Boycotting by consumers works sometimes, pressure to change business models/methods by open criticism works sometimes- there are multiple ways to get through.
          Telling people they cannot partake of criticism unless they fully divest themselves of an activity is horsepunky- especially as it pertains to our broader framework in this country. We can criticize our government, as a right, without giving up citizenship. We can certainly criticize business entities whilst using some of their products and it is neither doublespeak or hypocritical.

        • AKjah says:

          If you cannot think beyond oil, then you cannot speak to our children. Would you hold me at gun point to continue on the road of energy we now have. Thus -at gun point-is what we have. Yes i use oil. They will not offer an alternative.Am i wrong or is the construct of society wrong. Given what is known , we have not much room for choice.

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