Take a look at this long report from the NYTimes, summed up in this graf:

New government and BP documents, interviews with experts and testimony by witnesses provide the clearest indication to date that a hodgepodge of oversight agencies granted exceptions to rules, allowed risks to accumulate and made a disaster more likely on the rig, particularly with a mix of different companies operating on the Deepwater whose interests were not always in sync.

The article documents several outrageous cases in which BP cut safety corners, apparently to save money. But this is what really gets to me:

Federal regulators also gave the rig a pass at several critical moments. After the rig encountered several problems, including the gas kicks and the pipe stuck in the well, the regulators did not demand a halt to the operation. Instead, they gave permission for a delay in a safety test of the blowout preventer.

As you read in the piece, the federal government over and over allowed BP to get away with unsafe practices. As angry as I am at BP over what happened, I’m ever angrier at the government, because it had the power to stop BP or to compel the company to behave responsibly. The government failed to, well, govern. One can understand the motivation behind BP’s reckless behavior — not approve of it, obviously, but understand why greed and a corporate culture of irresponsibility would lead to a disaster like this. But what is the government’s excuse? There is none. In the same sense that the Catholic bishops deserve more anger over the sex abuse scandal than the abusive priests — because the bishops, who had oversight responsibility, weren’t driven by disordered compulsions — so too does the government deserve more ire even than BP. The president cannot make heads roll at BP, but he can and should make merciless examples of those within the regulatory bureaucracy whose laziness helped cause this catastrophe.

More from Beliefnet and our partners
Close Ad