Fast news

Oil plans

WITH BP’s oil spill disaster continuing to pollute the Gulf of Mexico, executives of the big five oil companies – BP, ExxonMobil, Chevron, ConocoPhillips and Shell – recently appeared in front of a US Congressional hearing to defend their oil spill response plans.

BP’s plan for the Gulf, dated June 2009, looks to have been cut and pasted from a plan to deal with oil spills in the Arctic.

The plan lists, for example:

  • Cold water mammals including walruses, sea otters, sea lions and seals as “sensitive biological resources”. None of these animals live anywhere near the Gulf. The last time walruses used the Gulf of Mexico as home was three million years ago! This ludicrous reference was shared by three other oil companies’ plans.
  • The plan also listed a professor, who died in 2005, as a national wildlife expert. The professor’s phone number also appeared in two other companies’ response plans!
  • The website listed for Marine Spill Response Corp. – one of two firms that BP relies on for equipment to clean a spill – links to a defunct Japanese-language page.

The report was rubber-stamped by the US government’s compromised and much criticised regulatory body – the Minerals Management Service (see The Socialist, issue 627).

Profits not safety

The big five oil companies amassed nearly $289 billion in profits over the last three years. They spent $39 billion to explore for new oil and gas. Yet the average investment in research and development for safety, accident prevention, and spill response was a paltry $20 million a year, less than 0.1% of their profits.

According to Ed Markey, the Democrat senator for Massachusetts, oil companies are drilling for free in the Gulf of Mexico on leases that equate to more than $50 billion in lost government royalties.

Abortion rights

THE ARGUMENTS for further reducing the time limit on abortions were discredited by a report published last week. It conclusively showed that connections in the brain are not fully formed until 24 weeks’ gestation, meaning that no pain can be felt before then. The study also found that even after this stage the foetus is kept in an unconscious state in the womb.

A separate report on abortion concluded that it would be impossible to compile a list of conditions which count as ‘serious handicap’ because the long term effects on the child and family cannot be predicted. This report was commissioned in response to the claim that women regularly abort foetuses with only minor conditions.

Reports like these show that the scientific evidence clearly supports those who fight for the universal right to free and safe abortion on demand.

Sarah Wrack