|Their greed and their massive failures have been documented for all to see:
That record includes a June 1999 gasoline pipeline explosion in Bellingham, Wash., that killed three people, including two 10-year-old boys who were playing in a creek; 15 who died and 170 who were injured at a BP oil refinery blast in Texas in 2005; and a fire at an Anacortes, Wash., refinery that killed seven workers, just weeks before an explosion and fire at the Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf of Mexico killed 11 workers and released a massive oil spill in April.
In the past four months, 58 workers have died in explosions, fires and collapses at refineries, coal mines, the oil drilling rig and a natural gas-fired power plant construction site, said Jordan Barab, deputy assistant secretary for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
These numbers speak for themselves and show why you cannot depend on the greediest and least patriotic among us to regulate themselves. They care little about country or countrymen if they must sacrifice even a small portion of their ungodly profits. They have clearly shown themselves incapable of regulating themselves without real government oversight.
While this should enrage us all, Sen. Murray today was clearly not amused in hearings:
"To me this doesn't seem simply like a string of bad luck; it appears to be a disregard for safety regulations and precautions across an entire industry," said Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., the subcommittee's chairman.
Murray was furious that BP turned down an invitation to testify before her Employment and Workplace Safety Subcommittee of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. She tangled with an industry representative who sought to sidestep criticism of BP's worker safety record.
"Does the industry stand behind BP?" Murray asked Charles Drevna, the president of the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association.
"Stand behind is a broad word, ma'am," Drevna said.
"I would suggest the rest of the industry tell BP how it feels to be sitting there," Murray said.
Murray had a suggestion for increasing safety in the industry, allowing OSHA more clout in enforcing regulations:
When it comes to offshore oil rigs, Murray said, OSHA has a jurisdictional problem: Its authority ends at the beach. The Minerals Management Service and the Coast Guard have the offshore responsibilities. Along with Barab and Nibarger, Murray said that OSHA might need more authority and clout when inspecting refineries and other industry operations.
This does not sound like a bad idea but I honestly believe that all of these problems fall under the general war on workers which has raged for at least two decades now in this country. While the loss of life will understandably always draw more coverage in the media the simple fact of the matter is that this problem is simply part of the overall devaluing of honest work in America. It is no coincidence that the lack in worker safety has gone hand in hand with the stagnating of wages, outsourcing of jobs, and loss of respect for those who do the actual work in this country in all facets of their lives.
Until we address the full problem it is doubtful that we will make significant strides in workplace safety in the Energy industry. Working hard needs to once again be respected in this country, not with talking points but with real action. While the quest for profit will always be very important in our economy, once again the wealth needs to be spread among EVERYONE who makes the profits possible, not only the very few in ownership and upper management.
The American worker simply must stop being regarded as an enemy to society because they simply hope to attain the middle-class with wages and benefits that allow them to contribute to the economy too. American workers have long inspired freedom in the world by standing up and demanding fair wages and benefits.
No matter what the other side will say about "American ideals" one ideal of the Enlightenment that this country was founded on was the idea that their would indeed be a middle-class and the world would not become a never-ending system of Lords and Serfs. That is why we need to stand now not only against the oil and gas company's dismal record on safety, but to the dismal attitude against work that has poisoned far too much of our society for far too long.