“We will make BP pay for the damage their company has caused,” said Barack Obama last night on his television address about the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
As a line in a speech, it sounds good, as if President Obama is taking charge. In real life, how on earth is it possible for BP to pay for the damage that it’s caused with its dangerous, sloppy offshore drilling?
How, for example, is the Obama Administration going to make BP pay for the damage caused to the goblin shark?
The goblin shark is a fascinating animal. It’s a rare animal, almost never seen, spending most of its time swimming in the deep waters below 600 feet, where it’s always dark. It has curving, needle like teeth, and eyes that seem to pop out of the side of its head, next to a kind of paddle-shaped flat snout. Remarkably, it has a set of semi-detached jaws that can be projected forward out from its head, to snap quickly into the water, snatching up prey. To see this maneuver in action, take a look at the video below.
Where the goblin shark lives in the Gulf of Mexico, there are now huge clouds of doubly-toxic suspensions of crude oil and Corexit dispersant. There has also been a huge amount of methane released into the waters of the Gulf, encouraging microbial growth which appears to be creating large areas where the water does not contain enough oxygen for fish to breathe.
In short, conditions in the goblin shark’s Gulf habitat have become downright deadly. Given that the goblin shark was already extremely rare in the Gulf, it’s possible that the species will be wiped out there.
How is BP going to clean that up? What’s it going to do? Conduct operations to capture goblin sharks from other parts of the world and transplant them into the Gulf? Start a captive breeding program?
No, BP isn’t going to do any of these things. BP’s so-called “clean up” will be a superficial affair, removing only the pollution that’s easy for people to see from the land and on the surface of the water. Down deep, the filth will remain.
BP might pay hotel owners for economic damage caused by lack of tourists. BP might pay fishermen. But, is BP going to pay for the damage its causing in the deepwater?
Not one stinking penny.