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Shorter BP: We’re Done

Well, this is something:

BP Plc has decided not to attach a second blowout preventer on its leaking well in the Gulf of Mexico and efforts to end the flow are over until the relief wells are finished, according to the U.S. Coast Guard’s Thad Allen, who spoke at a press conference today.

Today is the beginning of hurricane season, expected to be one of the most active in recent memory, with the expectation of 23 named storms (the average output is 10). But we’re going to wait two months to stop the leak.

Fishing has been closed in over a quarter of the Gulf, and doubling or tripling the amount of oil in the water will likely double or triple the no-fishing zone. But we’re going to wait two months to stop the leak.

Under the Clean Water Act, it will cost BP $4,300 per barrel spilled into the Gulf, separate from any criminal charges or civil suits with individuals over economic damage. That’s an additional $4-$30 billion dollars, depending on what spill rate you believe the most accurate. But despite this clear financial incentive to do whatever can be done, we’re going to wait two months to stop the leak.

I guess that’s part of the response plan that BP created in the event of a rig blowout – you know, the one that mentions sea lions, seals, sea otters and walruses in the Gulf of Mexico – when a couple attempts fail, do nothing for two months while you wait for more drilling.

So it goes. Welcome to the era of “nothing we can do.”

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David Dayen

David Dayen