Obama should nationalize BP
SeÃ¡n Kinane about over 3 years ago
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.