Dig A Little Deeper, NYT

Ken AshfordCorporate Greed, Disasters, Energy and ConservationLeave a Comment

An article on the front page of today's New York Times contains quotes from various conservation groups indicating that perhaps the oil spill isn't as bad as people think it is.  Example:

Other experts said that while the potential for catastrophe remained, there were reasons to remain guardedly optimistic.

“The sky is not falling,” said Quenton R. Dokken, a marine biologist and the executive director of the Gulf of Mexico Foundation, a conservation group in Corpus Christi, Tex. “We’ve certainly stepped in a hole and we’re going to have to work ourselves out of it, but it isn’t the end of the Gulf of Mexico.”

Yeah, will if you click on that link and poke around a little bit at the Gulf of Mexico Foundation website, you'll quickly see that it has a rather startling number of board members who work with, or for, the oil industry.

At least half of the 19 members of the group’s board of directors have direct ties to the offshore drilling industry. Seven board members are currently employed at oil companies, or at companies that provide products and services “primarily” to the offshore oil and gas industry. Those companies include Shell, Conoco Phillips, LLOG Exploration Company, Devon Energy, Anadarko Petroleum Company and Oceaneering International.

The Gulf of Mexico Foundation’s president is a retired senior vice president of Rowan Companies Inc., an offshore drilling contractor.

Smell an oily dead fish?  Of course you do.  It gets worse.  From the Gulf of Mexico Foundation website, you'll read things like this, under "Board News":

Board meets in Houston
January 2010
– The GMF held its winter Board of Directors meeting in Houston on January 25-26. The meeting was hosted by Transocean, which also sponsored a dinner for Board members the first evening. The meeting focused on further development of on-going and proposed projects.

Who is "Transocean"?  Well, it's a company which constructs and operates oil rigs.  One of its executives is on the board of the Gulf of Mexico Foundation, the "conservation group" quoted in the New York Times article.

But Transocean isn't just any company that constructs offshore oil rigs.  Transocean is the company that actually built and operated the Deepwater Horizon oil rig for BP.  Nine of the 11 workers who died when the rig exploded were Transocean employees.

In other words, the "conservation group" downplaying the extent of the disaster in the New York Times was actually a front group comprised of members with connections to the oil industry in general, and connections to the specific oil rig which was ground zero for the disaster.

Don't you think the New York Times readers would like to know that?