Gulf Oil Spill Seems A Fading Memory To The Public

There's little reaction as BP's CEO lambastes company critics

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Today’s health headline is about how cigarette smoking causes Alzheimer’s, but after reading the latest diatribe from BP’s latest CEO, I wonder if there isn’t another culprit — oil.

Just a few months ago, at the height of BP’s oil gusher into the Gulf of Mexico, then-CEO Tony Hayward drew angry public reaction—and ultimately had to resign—for making a number of insensitive statements, such as wanting his life back and saying the spill was tiny compared to the ocean. Even President Obama called for Hayward’s head.

But, that was then when oil was flooding wetlands, tarring wildlife and leading the news. Since then, the oil well’s been capped, the oil has mostly disappeared from public view (although much if not most of it has retreated to the ocean depths), and the public itself is no longer acting or reacting to what continues as America’s biggest oil spill, nor is there any apparent reaction to the Obama administration’s decision to let deepwater oil drilling resume.

Even more telling is the complete lack of outrage or even ripples of public distaste over what Bob Dudley, the replacement CEO at BP, is saying about the spill. Today, he came out swinging at those groups, people and other oil companies who said negative things about BP when the oil was flowing unchecked.

Dudley attacked BP’s critics for their "great rush to judgment" about the company and the spill it caused—as if BP hadn’t shown its own great rush of misjudgment with an abysmal well drilling operation that resulted in the deaths of 11 workers and an uncountable toll on human communities, wildlife, ecosystems and habitat; its many weeks of deliberate misinformation about the spill itself; and its determination to bull forward in the Gulf. As Dudley vowed today, BP isn’t "quitting the U.S." and most certainly isn’t quitting deepwater drilling.

Based upon the virtual non-response to these in-your-face statements, one must assume that the issue has slipped off America’s radar screen. Is it boredom with the issue or has it been largely forgotten?

From 2006–2014, Terry was managing editor for Earthjustice's blog, online monthly newsletter and print Earthjustice Quarterly Magazine.