BP should have learned a lesson from the disaster in the Gulf, but I have to wonder if it really has. The oil giant has done a masterful job of convincing the public that it has cured all of the problems caused by the massive and record-setting Gulf oil spill. BP wants the public to consider the spill to be distant history and that all is now well. Frankly, the ongoing public relations campaign by BP has been its best work. Through the years, the public has heard daily on television that the environment has been restored, tourism is back and BP has made its operations safer. The well-done ads tell us the company spends more money in the U.S. than any of its competitors. BP wants the public, as well as the government, to forgive and forget. But what BP caused in the Gulf, with all of the damage done and to be done for years to come, is indefensible. The company’s conduct was grossly negligent and actually reached the level of wantonness. If ever a huge corporation deserved to be punished, it’s BP.
Research into the long-term effects of the oil and chemicals in the Gulf is ongoing. Even though BP has paid tens of billions of dollars to cover criminal and civil settlements, there are a huge number of lawsuits and government investigations still underway. To believe that the Gulf itself, and the states on the Gulf, are back to normal, one would have to ignore reality. There are still major problems on the coast and there will very likely be additional problems for years to come. Declaring the crisis over, or that BP has paid its dues, is premature. I am not at all sure that BP has learned its lesson. The tenor of the oil giant’s intense advertising blitz certainly doesn’t give that impression.
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