Quantcast

Big Oil's Political Influence Fuels Industrial 'Accidents'

Energy

Ring of Fire

By Farron Cousins

On July 29, an explosion at a gas plant in Tavares, FL, injured eight people, leaving five of them in critical condition. Three months prior to that, a fertilizer plant explosion in Texas killed 14 people and left numerous people injured and homeless. And three years before that, an oil rig operated by BP, Transocean and Halliburton exploded in the Gulf of Mexico killing 11 people and destroying an entire ecosystem.

Countless other explosions, oil leaks, gas leaks and other industrial “accidents” occurred all over the country in between these three major events, and every one of them has something in common: they were all allowed to happen thanks to a lack of sufficient safety regulations. And the lack of oversight was the work of politicians who are on the dole of industries that consistently put the health of their profits over the safety of their workers and the public.

“When you follow the money on stories like these, you’ll almost always find out that industry money was enough to convince corrupt politicians that people are expendable and safety isn’t as important as the next election cycle," said Mike Papantonio, a senior partner with the Florida law firm of Levin, Papantonio. "This is becoming the norm in our post-Citizens’ United political arena.”

In Florida, the site of the most recent explosion, the energy industry is the top campaign donor for political races, lobbying and other political expenditures. And what do they get in return for the millions they give politicians in the Sunshine State? Tea Party Gov. Scott (R-FL) and Republicans in Washington gave them the gift of a budget cut—a cut that dangerously lowered the budget of government agencies that oversee public and workplace safety. The result is fewer regulators, fewer inspections and more injuries.

This is the exact same scenario that played itself out in the West, TX, fertilizer plant explosion. Analyses by writers like David Sirota tell us that the industry’s fingerprints are all over the deregulation and lack of safety inspections that could have easily prevented the deadly explosion. But, in true Republican fashion, industry money won the day, and the workers at that Texas fertilizer plant were the ones who paid the ultimate price for corporate greed and political corruption.

And the story repeats itself again in the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster, where the industry had such a cozy relationship with the government and regulators that the company was actually allowed to fill out their own safety inspection reports.

When it comes to buying political influence, no other industry is more powerful than the dirty energy industry. They consistently spend more on lobbying and campaign donations than any other industry, and as a result, they are able to write their own rules, consumers be damned.

Visit EcoWatch’s ENERGY page for more related news on this topic.

——–

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Scanning electron micrograph of Yersinia pestis, which causes bubonic plague, on proventricular spines of a Xenopsylla cheopis flea. NIAID / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

A middle-aged married couple in China was diagnosed with pneumonic plague, a highly infectious disease similar to bubonic plague, which ravaged Europe in the middle ages, as CNN reported.

Read More Show Less
Milk made from almonds, oats and coconut are among the healthiest alternatives to cow's milk. triocean / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Dairy aisles have exploded with milk and milk alternative options over the past few years, and choosing the healthiest milk isn't just about the fat content.

Whether you're looking beyond cow's milk for health reasons or dietary preferences or simply want to experiment with different options, you may wonder which type of milk is healthiest for you.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Greta Thunberg stands aboard the catamaran La Vagabonde as she sets sail to Europe in Hampton, Virginia, on Nov. 13. NICHOLAS KAMM / AFP via Getty Images

Greta Thunberg, the teenage climate activist whose weekly school strikes have spurred global demonstrations, has cut short her tour of the Americas and set sail for Europe to attend COP25 in Madrid next month, as The New York Times reported.

Read More Show Less
The Lake Delhi Dam in Iowa failed in 2010. VCU Capital News Service / Josh deBerge / FEMA

At least 1,688 dams across the U.S. are in such a hazardous condition that, if they fail, could force life-threatening floods on nearby homes, businesses, infrastructure or entire communities, according to an in-depth analysis of public records conducted by the the Associated Press.

Read More Show Less

By Sabrina Kessler

Far-reaching allegations about how a climate-sinning American multinational could shamelessly lie to the public about its wrongdoing mobilized a small group of New York students on a cold November morning. They stood in front of New York's Supreme Court last week to follow the unprecedented lawsuit against ExxonMobil.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored

By Alex Robinson

Leah Garcés used to hate poultry farmers.

The animal rights activist, who opposes factory farming, had an adversarial relationship with chicken farmers until around five years ago, when she sat down to listen to one. She met a poultry farmer called Craig Watts in rural North Carolina and learned that the problems stemming from factory farming extended beyond animal cruelty.

Read More Show Less
People navigate snow-covered sidewalks in the Humboldt Park neighborhood on Nov. 11 in Chicago. Scott Olson / Getty Images

Temperatures plunged rapidly across the U.S. this week and around 70 percent of the population is expected to experience temperatures around freezing Wednesday.

Read More Show Less
A general view of the flooded St. Mark's Square after an exceptional overnight "Alta Acqua" high tide water level, on Nov. 13 in Venice. MARCO BERTORELLO / AFP / Getty Images

Two people have died as Venice has been inundated by the worst flooding it has seen in more than 50 years, The Guardian reported Wednesday.

Read More Show Less