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Obama should nationalize BP

Sean Kinane about almost 4 years ago

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President Barack Obama should nationalize all U.S. assets of the foreign fossil fuel corporation BP. Today.

On April 20, Earth Day, a massive explosion rocked the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico. Eleven workers are missing and presumed dead. The rig sank in mile-deep waters and an estimated 210,000 gallons of petroleum continue to erupt from BP's well every day.

BP is trying several techniques to cut off the flow of pollution. But success of any one of them is either weeks away or hampered by admissions of inexperience with a well this deep.

The growing oil slick on the surface of the Gulf is an immediate threat to marine life and to the shorelines of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and the Florida Panhandle. But University of South Florida College of Marine Science oceanographer Bob Weisberg is modeling the currents and wind patterns and says it is likely the oil will become entrained in the nearby Gulf Loop Current. Once there it will quickly affect the Florida Keys, the east coast of Florida, and beyond.

The costs of the cleanup operation and of the environmental damage are likely to run into the billions or tens of billions of dollars. BP has promised to pay for the costs of the cleanup, but an I.O.U. that large is meaningless.

The Exxon Valdez oil spill happened more than 20 years ago and the victims have still not been compensated by the world's most profitable corporation. There's no reason to believe BP will be less litigious or more ethical.

As WMNF reported Monday, Stetson University College of Law professor Tim Kaye predicts that tort claims against BP's could actually be less successful if the environmental and economic damage from the leak become widespread.

So how will the people of the United States protect themselves from loss in a way we were not able to when Exxon spilled a ship full of fossil fuel in Alaska? The answer is a pre-emptive strike. The president must order the nationalization of all of the U.S. assets of BP: all of its refineries, office buildings, bank holdings, leases, and so on. It can be a temporary move. Once BP has repaid the American people for its fair share of the cost of the cleanup and environmental damage, we can re-evaluate the move and consider returning the assets to BP.

Think of it as collateral until BP pays its environmental and economic debt to the people of the United States.

There is a rich history of countries nationalizing the assets of foreign corporations who were extracting indigenous resources without adequate compensation.

In 1953 Guatemalan President Jacobo Arbenz expropriated some land owned by United Fruit Company that was then given to farmers.

Also in the early 1950s, Iran's President Mohammad Mosaddeq nationalized the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company.

Of course, Tea Party critics will cry "socialism!" But President Obama should not let fear of a label keep him from doing what's right for the people of the United States. Obama should nationalize the U.S. assets of BP. Today.

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Comments

taxpayers should not foot the bill!

Excellent editorial. It's not just the environment that's at stake, it's our economy. I live just off Gulf Blvd and I shudder to think what will happen to my community if we lose tourism because our crystalline beaches become tar flats. Why is the oil theirs as long as they can make millions off it, but when it spills, then it's ours? I am sure they will not foot the bill unless we have leverage to make it so.

Agreed

This is a great suggestion. I think the same should happen to EXXON if in fact they have not completely paid up on what is owed. It is a disgrace that these companies are allowed to profit while distroying local environment.

President, Friends of Human Rights

This is an excellent idea. The oil companies are never going to regulate themselves. Their only concern is profit.

Great idea

First of all, I believe BP is leasing the rig that belongs to a U.S. company. Second, what kind of idiot thinks that nationalizing BP's assets will somehow pay for the disaster? What are you, some kind of ultra-liberal socialist moron? We live and enjoy a free enterprise system governed by laws. BP can pay for the cleanup and I'm sure they will. They have no choice in the matter. It's up to our weak, liberal, socialist, greedy, incompetent government to enforce those laws and to fight for its people. Unfortunately, BP has more than likely paid a few of our elected officials to look the other way. You want to stop BP? Stop buying gas, stop heating your homes, stop buying prescription drugs, stop buying anything made of plastic, stop buying goods that were transported using trains, trucks or airplanes, stop cooking food, stop listening to the radio, stop wearing clothes, stop buying iPods, stop putting stupid WMNF stickers on your cars. We depend on oil for everything. You are the same morons that don't want nuclear power. More people have died mining coal for power plants, and working in conventional power facilities than heve ever died in nuclear power plants. So stop your whining and face reality and stop living in your stupid little fantasy world.

The Tinker

Get real.....once again rational progressive thinking is lost to emotion and idealistic blather .....It will not be so simple to break away from our dependence on fossil fuels and ideas like this one and "farming our way to energy independence" won't work...Even simple workable solutions like increasing efficiency (worked to an extent in California)involve more than changing light bulbs, it also involves changing attitudes and beliefs....that's the really tough part...just try this one: Ask people in the Tampa Bay area whether they think the high speed rail from Tampa to Orlando will be built.....I have been amazed that the majority of people I ask (both sides of the political spectrum) are "non-believers". (FYI Revolution is USUALLY nasty & bloody)

Right On!

Good for you Sean for having the guts to say what many of us think. But "Nationalize" is a loaded word to which many will react emotionally rather than logically. Freezing a person's or corporation's assets and holding them in escrow or as a bond against payment of damages they owe is a reasonable, legal and capitalistic move. The U.S. has even done it against foreign countries, so why not foreign corps.? And as you say, the escrow or bond can be released when clean up and restitution is accomplished. Makes sense to me! BTW: the use of toxic chemicals to create tar balls that stay below the surface are just to keep the slick out of sight & out of mind. Tar balls & toxic chems below do as much or more damage than oil slicks above. Don't be fooled by out of sight out of mind.

Nationalize BP?.....

The reaction of financial markets to nationalization of a corporation such as BP would cause fear, panic and flight from US markets.

Perspective

First of all, I agree in principal with Sean's suggestion. In fact Sean's example of the Anglo - Iranian Oil Company is interesting because after Iran's President Mohammad Mosaddeq nationalized the company, Kermit Roosevelt and the CIA overthrew Mosaddeq and brought back the Shah. Soon after that the Anglo Iranian Oil Company was back in private hands and was renamed British Petroleum (BP). I also think that any attempt at nationalization should be short term and only to cover any damages resulting from the spill. The only real way to avoid these spills is to not drill in the first place. And that can only be done by reducing our demand on the dark liquid. Are we prepared to do that? Some of us tried this in the 70's (we went small and used 4 cylinder cars). How many of you are willing to get rid of your SUV's, gas-guzzing pickups and become REAL advocates for rapid transit?

i

Last time I checked - we do not live in Venezuela - the Hugo Chavez way is disaster - Venezuela's oil production is tanking due to Chavez nationalizing the oil companies there. Obama's already bankrupted the US - November 2010 - FLIP THE HOUSE AND APPROPRIATIONS ARE UNDER A NEW RULE!

Followup

In light of recent events surrounding this leak, I have an update to my recent post. However, before I state that, let me comment on what "Fitness Freak" posted here recently: Freak says: "we do not live in Venezuela - the Hugo Chavez way is disaster - Venezuela's oil production is tanking due to Chavez nationalizing the oil companies there.". I am not a fan of Chavez, but for heaven's sake, talk facts, not right-wing inuendo. Venezuela's oil industry has not tanked. In fact, poverty has been reduced in Venezuela and the effective unemployment rate there is under 10% (which in many cases is better than here). The discussion here is about nationalizing BP, not the entire oil industry. Freak's comment that "Obama's already bankrupted the US", is completely stupid and lacking of any reality. A quickie history trip: Bush grabs the Presidency in 2001, he and and the Republican Congress move to deregulate everything (FDIC, SEC, FDA, etc.). The 9/11 disaster and the subsequent (and misguided) Iraq invasion are used by them to push and accelerate a complete deregulation of most industry (free TV!). Bush's main (and memorable) comment after 9/11 was "Go shopping!". While running for President in 2004, Bush said he that he is working to have the majority of folks become homeowners and promised that more people would be homeowners if he was elected. Well after that, home ownership did go up. How? Subprime mortgages, that's how. The folks at the FDIC were told not to do their jobs (deregulation) and the folks who were supposed to regulate the Wall St. side of this sub prime business were also de-regulated and worse; were to busy downloading porn all day on their office computers (at tax payers expense). By 2006, the US subprime mortgage industry entered what many observers have begun to refer to as a meltdown. A steep rise in the rate of subprime mortgage defaults and foreclosures has caused more than 100 subprime mortgage lenders to fail or file for bankruptcy, most prominently New Century Financial Corporation, previously the nation's second biggest subprime lender. The failure of these companies has caused prices in the $6.5 trillion mortgage backed securities market to collapse, threatening broader impacts on the US housing market and economy as a whole. The crisis is ongoing and has received considerable attention from the US media and from lawmakers during the first half of 2007. When all of this blew up in September 2008, there was a weekend in that month in which 3 trillion dollars had been withdrawn electronically from the US economy in one morning, prompting the US Treasury to suspend all electronic transactions. Believe me, when you have 3 trillion disappear from the economy in one morning, we WILL have problems; trust me. All of this happened before Obama was even in office. Bottom line: please do your research (and educate yourself) before posting ridiculous comments. OK? Now back to the oil leak issue: I was just watching the news while having lunch, and in a discussion about the current situation with the oil leak (which is now predicted to get worse); the reporters turned to General Russel L. Honoré, US Army (Ret) and his opinion on the oil leak. While that was going on what kept going through my mind was the Navy should be involved in this. Then lo and behold, Gen Honoré recommended that the entire operation and facility should be placed under US military command with a military command and control structure. That and nationalization of BP's facility (to offset current and future damages caused by this leak-and pay for the military's time and effort) ) should be an adequate response to an increasing crises.

start with the well

President Obama just sent a team of experts to Houston to assist with shutting down the leak. I'd say the US needs to takeover any rigs the company operates in the Gulf, for OUR protection. And serve notice to all other operators that we will be reviewing their safety procedures and those that do not comply will have their leases revoked.

Transocean

According to Raw Story, Transocean is issuing a dividend payout of 1 Billion dollars. Can we focus our attention on more than one corporate parasite at a time?

Not Enough

Even If we take every nickel BP has it won't be enough to fix this. This was due to extreme negligence on the part of BP management. We should shut them down and confiscate ALL assets. IF CORPORATIONS ARE PEOPLE AS THE SUPREME COURT ASSERTS THERE SHOULD BE A DEATH PENALTY!