There was plenty of finger pointing at this week’s Congressional oil spill hearings.
The chairman of BP America, Lamar McKay, said BP is responsible for cleaning up the spill, but he blamed Transocean for the failure of the safety seal.
Then Transocean CEO Steven Newman said that since BP is the operator, the spill is ultimately the oil giant’s fault. And Halliburton executive Tim Probert denied that flaws in his company's cement contributed to the leak.
Meanwhile, oil continues to flow, uninterrupted, into the Gulf of Mexico.
But what the company executives and government officials fail to recognize is that the oil spill is not the fault of one company -- it represents an endemic lack of accountability from the oil industry and government agencies as a whole. The catastrophe isn’t the result of one mistake, it’s the result of a fundamentally broken system.
The Obama administration proposed yesterday to break up the MMS into two agencies -- one in charge of public safety and environmental enforcement, the other in charge of leasing and revenue collection.
It’s a good idea, but it shouldn’t have taken a disaster to make it happen, and it’s not enough. As more information comes to light about the system that allowed the Deepwater Drilling Disaster to occur, it’s clear that we need even more radical change.
The finger pointing will go on for years to come, but at least we can put an end to the policies and procedures that allowed the spill to happen in the first place.
Andy Sharpless is the CEO of Oceana.