Home > Uncategorized > Christie Repeating Lax Oversight Errors that Led to Gulf Blowout

Christie Repeating Lax Oversight Errors that Led to Gulf Blowout

Bayway Refinery, Linden NJ (Connoco-Phillips)

Bayway Refinery, Linden NJ (ConocoPhillips)

[Update: 7/4/10: ahem!. Confirming my point. There are lessons for NJ here: BP Texas Refinery Had Huge Toxic Release Just Before Gulf Blowout

In the weeks since the Deepwater Horizon exploded and sank in the Gulf, BP has insisted that the incident, the nation’s worst environmental disaster, was a disastrous but unusual misstep for a company that has done much in recent years to change its ways.

But a look at BP’s record in running the Texas City refinery adds to the mounting evidence that the company’s corporate culture favors production and profit margins over safety and the environment. The 40-day release echoes in several notable ways the runaway spill in the Gulf. BP officials initially underestimated the problem and took steps in the days leading up to the incident to reduce costs and keep the refinery online.]

ABC TV Eyewitness news ran a killer story tonight on a pattern of “serious safety and pollution violations” at the ConocoPhillips Bayway refinery in Linden, NJ. At about 250,000 barrels per day processing capacity, it is the largest on the east coast.

The ABC story leads with a recognition that lax government oversight and BP cutting corners on safety and environmental rules were factors that led to the Gulf disaster. ABC reports:

[Bill Wolfe] “You’ve got safety risks posed because of lax government oversight and profit motives to drive the facility and maximize its production.”

We have been writing about those issues here for some time, and even President Obama admittted as much in his Oval office address Tuesday night:

“Over the last decade, this agency has become emblematic of a failed philosophy that views all regulation with hostility—a philosophy that says corporations should be allowed to play by their own rules and police themselves. At this agency, industry insiders were put in charge of industry oversight. Oil companies showered regulators with gifts and favors, and were essentially allowed to conduct their own safety inspections and write their own regulations.

When Ken Salazar became my Secretary of the Interior, one of his very first acts was to clean up the worst of the corruption at this agency. But it’s now clear that the problem there ran much deeper, and the pace of reform was just too slow. And so Secretary Salazar and I are bringing in new leadership at the agency — Michael Bromwich, who was a tough federal prosecutor and Inspector General. And his charge over the next few months is to build an organization that acts as the oil industry’s watchdog — not its partner.”

As far as I know, for the first time, Governor Christie was asked by a reporter about his Executive Order #2 which is designed to provide “regulatory relief” and “waivers” from environmental requirements.

I don’t know which quotes were more absurd: Christie’s lame response or the oil company’s “no comment” dodge. ABC forced Christie to comment:

“Environmentalist Bill Wolfe spent 13 years at DEP. He says the massive spill in the gulf occurred because BP cut corners on safety while the regulators looked the other way.

Wolfe says Governor Christie is making the same mistake by issuing Executive Orders that call for immediate relief from regulatory burdens and waivers from regulations.

[Wolfe] “It will make government facilitate, not regulate – actually promote the interests of the polluters – protect the polluters, not the people of the state”.

[Governor Christie] ” Our environmental policies so far have been very progressive … I don’t know where you’re getting that from, but there’s none of that stuff going on”

(Jim Hoffer, ABC reporter] “Your Executive Order, where you call for less regulation

[Governor Christie] “No, what we call for is common sense regulation. We don’t call for less regulation

Watch the whole thing: Scroll down until you find Lax regulation at Bayway refinery in NJ

(ps – I got detained by Linden police for almost an hour for taking the above photo. The ConocoPhillips security guard falsley claimed that I trespassed on their property. I never left the public sidewalk, as my photo’s revealed. As a result, police refused to press charges. Damn, a false arrest charge might have funded my retirement!)

Christie was obviouslty flummoxed by and unprepared for the question from ABC’s Hoffer and equally shocked by the comeback by Hoffer.

Christie feels completely immune from criticism on envrionmental policy. Gotta figure NJEF support has lots to do with that, as does a deferential NJ press corps.)

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:
You must be logged in to post a comment.