The Gulf Oil Spill: Government Oversight Is for Pussies:
Those workers there are at the southeast tip of Louisiana. They're skimming oil and picking up tar balls from the Deepwater Horizon oil rig gusher that continues to pour sweet crude into the Gulf of Mexico after over 4 weeks. It could be a photo of dead fish, of oil coated birds, or of filthy oyster shells. It could be a video of the vomiting pipeline itself. Or of the sea being set on fire. By tonight, with the westerly direction of the current, it will probably be close to the Rude Pundit's old haunts in South Louisiana.
Everything you need to know to understand just how ridiculous our American approach to the interaction between government and industry has become is contained in this exchange: It's from the Coast Guard's hearing on the oil spill that was held on Tuesday. The USCG's Captain Hung Nguyen asked about the blowout preventer that was supposed to, you know, prevent the blowout, "It's my understanding that it's designed to industry standard and it's manufactured by the industry, installed by the industry, with no government witnessing or oversight of the construction or installation. Is that correct?"
To which Michael Saucier of the disgraced Minerals Management Service responded, "That is correct."
You got that? The very thing that's supposed to prevent, say, a massive, environment-despoiling, economy-wrecking incident was not subject to any government oversight. If you think that's okay, then you better be on the payroll of BP or else you're just a fucking fool, the kind of person who really ought to have their citizenship taken away and be sent to live on an island run by investment bankers, lobbyists, and free market whores. Oh, wait. That'd be America.
Saucier explained to Nguyen that his agency doesn't certify blowout preventers, but it will send out letters, "notices to lessees," if MMS has some problem it would like a driller to address. The driller usually responds with "Yeah, hey, and while you're down there, don't neglect the balls."
You could tell that Nguyen was thinking, "Are you fucking kidding?" when he said, "We have self-certification of critical equipment and safety notices that are not enforceable." And Nguyen's soul crumbled a bit more when Saucier informed him that any standards for safety and training with blowout preventers are created and certified by the industry, with no government oversight at all. Said the good Captain, "So, there's no licensing requirements for critical positions for drilling operations. The operator self-certifies, establishes what they think is adequate and then qualifies its own people to do the job."
You know, the politicians who would let an oil company do what it wants with the safety of its workers are very often the same ones who would tell a woman what to do with her body. Just a thought.
Meanwhile, the oil creeps closer. Meanwhile, we learn more about just how awful and unscrupulous and just goddamn evil the companies involved are, as if that's some sort of surprise. Hey, maybe all those clean-up jobs will spur the economic recovery.