Monday, March 16, 2015

Gulf Spill,9/11: BP,Dutch Royal Shell,Biggest Oil Beneficiaries Of 9/11-Iraq Invasion, Lied To Congress About NOT Attending Dick Cheney's White House Energy Task Force 2001

BP,Dutch Royal Shell,Biggest Oil Beneficiaries Of 9/11-Iraq Invasion, Lied To Congress About NOT Attending Dick Cheney's White House Energy Task Force 2001

Record: Oil leaders, energy panel met

Document raises questions about oil chiefs' denials

WASHINGTON -- A White House document shows that executives from big oil companies met with Vice President Dick Cheney's energy task force in 2001 -- something long suspected by environmentalists but denied as recently as last week by industry officials testifying before Congress.
The document, obtained this week by The Washington Post, shows that officials from Exxon Mobil Corp.Conoco (before its merger with Phillips), Shell Oil Co., and BP America Inc. met in the White House complex with the Cheney aides who were developing a national energy policy, parts of which became law and parts of which are still being debated.
In a joint hearing last week of the Senate Energy and Commerce committees, the chief executives of Exxon Mobil Corp., Chevron Corp., and ConocoPhillips said their firms did not participate in the 2001 task force. The president of Shell Oil said his company did not participate ''to my knowledge," and the chief of BP America Inc. said he did not know.
Chevron was not named in the White House document, but the Government Accountability Office has found that Chevron was one of several companies that ''gave detailed energy policy recommendations" to the task force. In addition, Cheney had a separate meeting with John Browne, BP's chief executive, according to a person familiar with the task force's work; that meeting is not noted in the document.
The task force's activities drew allegations by environmentalists, who said they were shut out of the task force discussions while corporate interests were present. The meetings were held in secret, and the White House would not release a list of participants. The task force was made up primarily of Cabinet-level officials. Judicial Watch and the Sierra Club unsuccessfully sued to obtain the records.
Senator Frank R. Lautenberg, a New Jersey Democrat who posed the question about the task force, said he will ask the Justice Department today to investigate. ''The White House went to great lengths to keep these meetings secret, and now oil executives may be lying to Congress about their role in the Cheney task force," Lautenberg said.
Lea Anne McBride, a spokeswoman for Cheney, declined to comment on the document and said the courts have upheld ''the constitutional right of the president and vice president to obtain information in confidentiality."
The executives were not under oath when they testified, so they are not vulnerable to charges of perjury; committee Democrats had protested the decision by Commerce Chairman Ted Stevens, Republican of Alaska, not to swear in the executives. But a person can be fined or imprisoned for up to five years for making ''any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or representation" to Congress.
Alan Huffman, who was a Conoco manager until the 2002 merger with Phillips, confirmed meeting with the task force staff. ''We met in the Executive Office Building if I remember correctly," he said. A spokesman for ConocoPhillips said he was looking into the apparent discrepancy between Huffman's statement and the testimony of the company's chief executive.
Exxon spokesman Russ Roberts said the company stood by chief executive Lee R. Raymond's statement in the Senate hearing. In a brief telephone interview, former Exxon vice president James Rouse, the official named in the White House document, denied the meeting took place. ''That must be inaccurate and I don't have any comment beyond that," said Rouse, now retired.
Ronnie Chappell, a spokesman for BP, declined to comment on the task force meetings. Darci Sinclair, a spokeswoman for Shell, said she did not know whether Shell officials met with the task force, but said they often meet members of the administration. Chevron said its executives did not meet with the task force, but confirmed that they provided a letter to President Bush outlining the company's recommendations.
The person familiar with the task force's work, who requested anonymity out of concern about retribution, said the document was based on records kept by the Secret Service of people admitted to the White House complex. The person said most meetings were with Andrew Lundquist, the task force's executive director, and Cheney aide Karen Y. Knutson.
According to the White House document, Rouse met with task force staff on Feb. 14, 2001. On March 21, the task force staff met with Archie Dunham, who was chairman of Conoco. On April 12, according to the document, the task force staff met with Conoco official Huffman and two officials from the US Oil and Gas Association, Wayne Gibbens and Alby Modiano.
On April 17, the task force staff met with Royal Dutch/Shell Group's chairman, Sir Mark Moody-Stuart, Shell Oil chairman Steven Miller, and two others. On March 22, the task force staff met with BP regional president Bob Malone, chief economist Peter Davies, and company employees Graham Barr and Deb Beaubien.
Toward the end of the hearing, Lautenberg asked the five executives: ''Did your company or any representatives of your companies participate in Vice President Cheney's energy task force in 2001?" When there was no immediate response, Lautenberg added: ''The meeting . . ."
''No," said Raymond.
''No," said Chevron chairman David J. O'Reilly.
''We did not, no," said ConocoPhillips chairman James Mulva.
''To be honest, I don't know," said BP America chief executive Ross Pillari, who came to the job in August 2001. ''I wasn't here then."
''But your company was here," Lautenberg replied.
''Yes," Pillari said.
Shell Oil president John Hofmeister, who has held his job since earlier this year, answered last. ''Not to my knowledge," he said.

The absence of an acoustical regulator — a remotely triggered dead man’s switch that might have closed off BP’s gushing pipe at its sea floor wellhead when the manual switch failed (the fire and explosion on the drilling platform may have prevented the dying workers from pushing the button) — was directly attributable to industry pandering by the Bush team. Acoustic switches are required by law for all offshore rigs off Brazil and in Norway’s North Sea operations. BP uses the devise voluntarily in Britain’s North Sea and elsewhere in the world as do other big players like Holland’s Shell and France’s Total. In 2000, the Minerals Management Service while weighing a comprehensive rulemaking for drilling safety, deemed the acoustic mechanism “essential” and proposed to mandate the mechanism on all gulf rigs.
Then, between January and March of 2001, incoming Vice President Dick Cheney conducted secret meetings with over 100 oil industry officials allowing them to draft a wish list of industry demands to be implemented by the oil friendly administration. Cheney also used that time to re-staff the Minerals Management Service with oil industry toadies including a cabal of his Wyoming carbon cronies. In 2003, newly reconstituted Minerals Management Service genuflected to the oil cartel by recommending the removal of the proposed requirement for acoustic switches. The Minerals Management Service’s 2003 study concluded that “acoustic systems are not recommended because they tend to be very costly.”
The acoustic trigger costs about $500,000. Estimated costs of the oil spill to Gulf Coast residents are now upward of $14 billion to gulf state communities. Bush’s 2005 energy bill officially dropped the requirement for the acoustic switch off devices explaining that the industry’s existing practices are “failsafe.”
Bending over for Big Oil became the ideological posture of the Bush White House, and, under Cheney’s cruel whip, the practice trickled down through the regulatory bureaucracy. The Minerals Management Service — the poster child for “agency capture phenomena” — hopped into bed with the regulated industry — literally. A 2009 investigation of the Minerals Management Service found that agency officials“frequently consumed alcohol at industry functions, had used cocaine and marijuana and had sexual relationships with oil and gas company representatives.” Three reports by the Inspector General describe an open bazaar of payoffs, bribes and kickbacks spiced with scenes of female employees providing sexual favors to industry big wigs who in turn rewarded government workers with illegal contracts. In one incident reported by the Inspector General, agency employees got so drunk at a Shell sponsored golf event that they could not drive home and had to sleep in hotel rooms paid for by Shell.
.Pervasive intercourse also characterized their financial relations. Industry lobbyists underwrote lavish parties and showered agency employees with illegal gifts, and lucrative personal contracts and treated them to regular golf, ski, and paintball outings, trips to rock concerts and professional sports events. The Inspector General characterized this orgy of wheeling and dealing as “a culture of ethical failure” that cost taxpayers millions in royalty fees and produced reams of bad science to justify unregulated deep water drilling in the gulf.
It is charitable to characterize the ethics of these government officials as “elastic.” They seemed not to have existed at all. The Inspector General reported with some astonishment that Bush’s crew at the MMS, when confronted with the laundry list of bribery, public theft and sexual and financial favors to and from industry “showed no remorse.”
BP’s confidence in lax government oversight by a badly compromised agency still staffed with Bush era holdovers may have prompted the company to take two other dangerous shortcuts. First, BP failed to install a deep hole shut off valve — another fail-safe that might have averted the spill. And second, BP’s reported willingness to violate the law by drilling to depths of 22,000-25,000 feet instead of the 18,000 feet maximum depth allowed by its permit may have contributed to this catastrophe.Robert  F. Kennedy Jr.

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