Halliburton Destroying Gulf Spill Evidence a 'Misdemeanor'
The 2010 BP Oil Spill is considered the largest accidental marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry. It spilled approximately 210,000,000 U.S. gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, and the initial explosion, caused by faulty cementing around the injection well, killed 11 workers.
During an internal probe into the this cementing after the blowout, Halliburton ordered workers to destroy computer simulations relating to safety measures. The U.S. Department of Justice announced Thursday that Halliburton has agreed to plead guilty to the destruction of this evidence.
This charge—knowingly destroying evidence during a government investigation in an attempt to cover up the cause of 11 human deaths and one of the largest disasters in the country’s history—is considered a “misdemeanor” charge. Halliburton is required to pay a $200,000 fine.
In 2011, Halliburton Co. took in $24.8 billion in revenue—that’s roughly $67.9 million per day, or $2.8 million per hour, or $47,000 per minute. In four and a half minutes they made enough to pay the total fines for destroying evidence of their criminal negligence.
Halliburton has also agreed to make a $55 million donation to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, presumably as a sign of good faith. Though this may make it easier for politicians to claim that the world’s second-largest oilfield services company—a company that made $39.5 billion dollars on the Iraq War—cares about you, Halliburton clearly had their own interests in mind. On page five of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s “Vision for a Healthy Gulf of Mexico Watershed,” the Fish and Wildlife Service refers to wild animals as “resources” and makes it clear that they are more interested in economy than ecology:
“The natural resources in the five Gulf states are the foundation of a multibillion dollar economic engine that employs more than 8 million people, produces more than half of America’s crude oil and natural gas, and accounts for the majority of the nation’s annual shrimp and oyster harvest. Hunting, fishing, bird-watching and other wildlife-dependent recreation contributes more than $25 billion annually to the region’s economy … Over the last century, climate change, sea level rise, habitat conversion and fragmentation, decreasing water quality and quantity and invasive species have diminished the resiliency of the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem … Natural disasters like hurricanes and man-made disasters like oil spills exacerbate these impacts. As a result, native fish and wildlife populations and their habitats are in decline, imperiling the very fabric that supports the Gulf Coast’s vibrant economy.”
Former Vice President Dick Cheney, who previously served as the CEO of Halliburton, once said “We have to make America the best place in the world to do business.” I’m sure Halliburton, BP, the Fish and Wildlife Service and the Department of Justice can all agree on that."
Visit EcoWatch’s GULF OIL SPILL pages for more related news on this topic.
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By Aaron W Hunter
A chance discovery of a beautifully preserved fossil in the desert landscape of Morocco has solved one of the great mysteries of biology and paleontology: how starfish evolved their arms.
The Pompeii of palaeontology. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<h2></h2><p>Although starfish might appear very robust animals, they are typically made up of lots of hard parts attached by ligaments and soft tissue which, upon death, quickly degrade. This means we rely on places like the Fezouata formations to provide snapshots of their evolution.</p><p>The starfish fossil record is patchy, especially at the critical time when many of these animal groups first appeared. Sorting out how each of the various types of ancient starfish relate to each other is like putting a puzzle together when many of the parts are missing.</p><h2>The Oldest Starfish</h2><p><em><a href="https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/216101v1.full.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Cantabrigiaster</a></em> is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. It was discovered in 2003, but it has taken over 17 years to work out its true significance.</p><p>What makes <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> unique is that it lacks almost all the characteristics we find in brittle stars and starfish.</p><p>Starfish and brittle stars belong to the family Asterozoa. Their ancestors, the Somasteroids were especially fragile - before <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> we only had a handful of specimens. The celebrated Moroccan paleontologist Mohamed <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.palaeo.2016.06.041" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Ben Moula</a> and his local team was instrumental in discovering <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0031018216302334?via%3Dihub" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">these amazing fossils</a> near the town of Zagora, in Morocco.</p><h2>The Breakthrough</h2><p>Our breakthrough moment came when I compared the arms of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> with those of modern sea lilles, filter feeders with long feathery arms that tend to be attached to the sea floor by a stem or stalk.</p><p>The striking similarity between these modern filter feeders and the ancient starfish led our team from the University of Cambridge and Harvard University to create a new analysis. We applied a biological model to the features of all the current early Asterozoa fossils in existence, along with a sample of their closest relatives.</p>
Cantabrigiaster is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<p>Our results demonstrate <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> is the most primitive of all the Asterozoa, and most likely evolved from ancient animals called crinoids that lived 250 million years before dinosaurs. The five arms of starfish are a relic left over from these ancestors. In the case of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em>, and its starfish descendants, it evolved by flipping upside-down so its arms are face down on the sediment to feed.</p><p>Although we sampled a relatively small numbers of those ancestors, one of the unexpected outcomes was it provided an idea of how they could be related to each other. Paleontologists studying echinoderms are often lost in detail as all the different groups are so radically different from each other, so it is hard to tell which evolved first.</p>
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