Rapacity and Ruin: The Truth “Leaks” Out on BP and Massey Greed

Earlier this month I published a longer piece here on RD about the underlying violence of extractive industries: all forms of mining and drilling. I wrote that we in the industrialized West made a Faustian bargain that we could batter Mother Earth and not pay the consequences. And so forth.

In separate testimony given yesterday in New Orleans and West Virginia, we began to hear about what always accompanies the lust for mineral wealth and the violence engendered by that lust: unsafe velocity.

In New Orleans, the chief mechanic working on the Deepwater Horizon platform on the night of the explosion, Douglas Brown, said that three officials of the rig’s owner, Transocean Ltd., were very uncomfortable about a push made by BP officials to remove mud too quickly from the pipe connecting the rig with the well 5,000 feet down. Brown told Coast Guard investigators that BP was in a hurry to finish and seal the exploratory well, as the prospecting project was taking too long and running over budget. 

And in Beckley, West Virginia miners and former mine safety inspectors testified to a Congressional committee about how Massey managers would routinely put on a show of following safety regulations when a federal inspector was present, but that these inspection days were basically the only days when Massey miners enjoyed a basic protection that is supposed to be standard operating procedure: i.e. plenty of fresh air supplied through what are called “curtains” that disperse dangerous gases and coal dust building up in the mine. The infusion of fresh air guards against explosions and black lung disease. 

The men testified that Massey Energy has just one priority, which is maximum daily coal production—not worker safety. 

None of the testimony is surprising. What is surprising is that neither the corporate media nor top politicians want to connect the dots that link energy addiction, corporate greed, and the unrelenting violence directed against God’s creation and against the human beings who are unlucky enough to work where mineral wealth is extracted.