Treatment of BP justified
Mr. Kemp’s letter (Readers Write 7/8/10, "Pressure exerted on BP…") admonishes the U.S. government for using "a certain amount of pressure" to force BP to commit $20B for a compensation fund connected with their oil spill disaster. He is also distressed over the disrespectful treatment of their CEO, Mr. Hayward, during a recent congressional hearing and by members of the current administration.
As an apologist for BP, Mr. Kemp must not be aware of or is ignoring BP’s record of habitual disregard for safety, leading the industry in OSHA violations by having demonstrated either an "intentional disregard for the requirements of the (law), or showed plain indifference to employee safety and health." OSHA records show BP with 760 "egregious, willful" safety violations, while Sunoco and Conoco-Phillips each had eight, Citgo had two and Exxon had one. At the same time, the SEC reports that BP’s profits rose to $6.08B (from $2.56B) during the first quarter 2010, and revenue rose to $74.42B (from $48.09B). The SEC also estimates that they can produce $20B in positive cash flow every annual quarter and have approximately $7 billion cash reserves in hand.
Unlike Mr. Kemp (and Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas), I don’t see BP as the victim in this case. What I see is an irresponsible foreign corporation that is taking advantage of U.S. public resources and harming U.S. citizens in a successful campaign to garner unprecedented profits by taking illegal safety shortcuts. My feeling is that respect should be reserved for those who earn it and that our government officials are justified in their treatment of BP.
What I find most interesting in this argument is how, given the ready availability of these facts, we can each draw very different conclusions. I would hope that this could be the subject of further discussion.
Steven B. Christo