Thursday, June 10, 2010

Bush, Cheney, and the BP Disaster

American Progress has some spot-on analyses by Joshua Dorner and Rebecca Lefton on the direct cause-and-effect between the Bush-Cheney policies and the ongoing BP disaster. Some highlights:

"Lobbying records show that Andrew Lundquist, the executive director of Cheney’s energy task force, left government to become a lobbyist (at a firm later joined by since-jailed Deputy Secretary of the Interior Stephen J. Griles) and was actively lobbying on the legislation on behalf of BP and other energy companies. One of the worst elements of what has come to be known as the “Dick Cheney energy bill” had a direct role in eliminating the kind of regulatory oversight that may have prevented the blowout of BP’s Mississippi Canyon 252 well on April 20 of this year. Section 390 of the legislation dramatically expanded the circumstance under which drilling operations could forego environmental reviews and be approved almost immediately under so-called “categorical exclusions” from the National Environmental Policy Act."

"The Energy Policy Act of 2005, signed by President George W. Bush on August 8, 2005, achieved many of the goals set out by Cheney’s secret task force in 2001 and ushered in a new era of deregulation, self-regulation, and utter disregard for environmental and safety laws. It also coincided with a culture of deep and widespread corruption at the Interior Department, including the Minerals Management Service. This era unquestionably set the stage for the BP oil catastrophe—Cheney’s Katrina."

"Oil companies raked in record profits while benefitting from policies they wrote for themselves. These energy policies did nothing for our national security and left consumers to pay the price at the pump and on their energy bills, which rose more than $1,100 during the Bush administration."

"The Bush administration released the National Energy Policy Report on May 16 [2001]. President Bush appointed Vice President Cheney—who gave up his title as CEO of oil and gas company Halliburton to take on his new role—with developing a new energy policy swiftly after taking office. But Cheney’s relationship with Halliburton did not end. Cheney was kept on the company's payroll after retirement and retained around 430,000 shares of Halliburton stock.

The task force report was based on recommendations provided to Cheney from coal, oil, and nuclear companies and related trade groups—many of which were major contributors to Bush’s presidential campaign and to the Republican Party. Oil companies—including BP, the National Mining Association, and the American Petroleum Institute—secretly met with the Cheney and his staff as part of a task force to develop the country’s energy policy."

" Bush lifted the executive moratorium on offshore drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico and off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts on July 14 [2008]."

Dorner and Lefton's full reports for American Progress are must-reads - find them here and here.