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?