Breaking Down the BP Gulf Spill Blame Game


At the end of last week, Grist came out with this handy infographic that breaks down where the blame for the BP Gulf spill lies. It's a useful tool to help visualize the scope of the problems that caused the disaster, and I think it more or less gets it right. And there's a reason that BP is only 37% responsible, despite being the public face of the spill (as it should). But there's more than meets the eye: BP, having been proven woefully negligent and absolutely unprepared for a deep sea oil spill, deserves the most blame. I'd argue it deserves more than Grist allocates to it -- it had more willful safety violations than all other oil companies drilling in the Gulf put together, remember. Nonetheless, it deserves to come in at numero uno.

Second of all, us. The blame for continued dependence on petroleum for fuel and oil-based products is our, the consumers, fault above all. For failing to rally for change in energy policy, for continuing to shell out at the pump in record numbers, for failing to generally do anything meaningful to roll back our dependence on fossil fuels. If and when this happens again, it won't be just because of cost-cutting corporations and snoozing regulators -- it will be because we prop up an industry that relies now on dangerous methods of extracting energy with our purchasing dollars.

The MMS, the Mineral Management Service certainly deserves blame for sleeping on the job, and Obama deserves some blame for not booting out the malfunctioning regulators and kicking the service into gear. But does he deserve as much blame as Bush and Cheney, who appointed the negligent officials, and who created a culture of lax regulation that still plagues us today? I personally think not. If the chart were titled "Blame Game: Spill Response Edition", it would be a different story: Obama's lackluster, hands-off, deferring-to-BP response would earn him a higher chunk of that score.

The rest more or less makes sense to me. Anyone else deserve some blame that got left out?

Also, be sure to check out Grist's own commentary and breakdown.

More on the BP Gulf Spill:
Oil Spill Blame Game Over: 60 Minutes Uncovers Severe BP Negligence Led to Explosion (Video)
BP Gulf Oil Spill Officially the Worst in US History

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