Friday, March 28, 2014

Who do you trust?

A former Halliburton manager pleaded guilty Tuesday October 15, 2013, to destroying evidence in the aftermath of the deadly rig explosion that spawned BP's massive 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. I was more than a little interested in the story. The manager's name was Anthony Badalamenti, similar to my surname, Badalamente. The name is of Sicilian origin, and in the south-eastern part of the island of Sicily, it is a name associated with the mafia.

But the main reason for my interest was Halliburton's association with the devastating spill, and its record of making sizable campaign contributions to congressional Republicans, such as Joe "Smokey Joe" Barton of Texas, known for their opposition to legislation to combat climate change.
Halliburton is, you may remember, the company that Dick Cheney ran before becoming George W. Bush's vice president. And it is the company that under Cheney, mislead investors about the company's asbestos liabilities. And the company that, when Cheney was VP, profited mightily from contracts it had with the Pentagon to supply services to the Iraq war effort -- no-bid contracts.

Halliburton was up to its waist in the corruption that plagued the BP oil spill. Another employee of Halliburton also deleted data from a separate round of simulations at the direction of Badalamenti, who, according to Halliburton, was acting without company authorization. Halliburton told prosecutors that efforts to recover the data weren't successful

Badalamenti wasn't the first individual charged with a crime stemming from the Deepwater Horizon disaster, but he is the first to plead guilty. A federal jury found former BP engineer Kurt Mix guilty on December 18 of obstruction of justice after prosecutors said he destroyed text and voice messages over oil spillage.

BP well site leaders Robert Kaluza and Donald Vidrine are still awaiting trial on manslaughter charges stemming from the rig workers' deaths. Prosecutors claim Kaluza and Vidrine botched a key safety test and disregarded abnormally high pressure readings that were glaring signs of trouble before the April 2010 blowout of BP’s Macondo well. The blowout triggered an explosion that killed the 11 workers and led to millions of gallons of oil spewing into the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Louisiana.

Former BP executive David Rainey is charged with concealing information from Congress about the amount of oil that was spewing from the blown-out well in 2010.
It was Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX), chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, who famously apologized to BP CEO Tony Hayward for what he called a "White House shakedown" of BP when they were asked to establish a $20 billion fund to compensate the residents of the gulf for the devastation the sill caused.

But Barton's most shameless act came five years earlier, when on June 23, 2005, he sent a letter to the IPCC Chairman, Rajendra Pachauri, National Science Foundation Director Arden Bement, and to the three scientists responsible for publishing climate reconstructions supporting the so-called Hockey Stick graph showing global warming, Michael E. Mann, Raymond S. Bradley and Malcolm K. Hughes, demanding that they provide not just data and methods, but also personal information about their finances and careers, information about grants provided to the institutions they had worked for, and the exact computer codes used to generate their results. The ensuing controversy enveloped the whole of the scientific community -- quick to rise to the defense not just of their colleagues, but to science itself. In fact, Barton's own congressional colleagues took him to task.

Sherwood Boehlert, chairman of the House Science Committee, told his fellow Republican Joe Barton it was a "misguided and illegitimate investigation" into something that should properly be under the jurisdiction of the Science Committee, and wrote and Barton saying, "your investigation is that its purpose seems to be to intimidate scientists rather than to learn from them, and to substitute congressional political review for scientific review."

Democrat Henry A. Waxman's demanded Barton to withdraw his letter and saying Barton's letter might be "interpreted as a transparent effort to bully and harass climate change experts who have reached conclusions with which you disagree."

Nevertheless, Republican members of congress continue to stonewall efforts to address climate change, and have even taken to challenging the EPA's authority to address the issue by regulating greenhouse gas emissions.

A well-funded campaign has been underway for two decades aimed at casting doubt on the science of global warming. You just have to ask yourself, who do you trust, British Petroleum, Halliburton, America's fossil fuel industry and their congressional lapdogs, or the scientific community?

I know my answer.

No comments: