“Bypassing Big Oil’s Alliance With Government”


I’m very grateful to writer Mark Hand and the popular website CounterPunch for reviewing Crude Justice: How I Fought Big Oil and Won, and What You Should Know About the New Environmental Attack on America. I thought Mark’s piece really captured the essence of the book. Here’s an excerpt:

Early in his career, Smith said he learned that big oil and gas companies operated in a system that valued profits over people and that they were perfectly content to try to cover their tracks if necessary. “It is our job as trial lawyers to try to make the costs of doing good less than the costs of doing bad,” he explains in the book.

It was hard enough battling the corporate giants and their high-priced legal teams. But with the government also on the side of the energy companies, achieving justice became a daunting task. Smith recalls never having an environmental case where the government was on the side of the victim. Whether it’s toxic waste produced by the oil and gas industry or oil spilled from the Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf of Mexico, the federal government, together with state governments, has traditionally served as an industry partner in quashing attempts to gain justice for alleged environmental crimes, according to Smith.

With the Gulf of Mexico disaster, the real agenda of the Obama administration was to shield oil giant BP, operator of the oil field where the massive leak occurred, from legal liability and protect the president from political blame, Smith contends in his book. In the aftermath of the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon, the federal government worked with BP to restrict access as a way to downplay the severity of the disaster.

As he investigated the spill on behalf of his clients, Smith discovered that a major problem would be “the lid of secrecy that BP and the feds had clamped down on the spill zone.”

Unfortunately, this problem isn’t going away. Just in the last few days, we’ve seen the lack of communication and poor cooperation hindering the clean-up of a major oil spill on the Pacific Coast near Santa Barbara. In Philadelphia, there was a report over the weekend about the shroud of secrecy surrounding the oil trains that pass through highly populated cities. In all of these cases, the government is more likely to side with big business than with the public interest.

But the public has a right to know what Big Oil is up to, in order to safeguard the environment. That’s the story behind my book, Crude Justice, but it’s also a storyline for the nation going forward.

Check out the entire CounterPunch review of Crude Justice: http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/05/25/bypassing-big-oils-alliance-with-government/

Read more about the collusion between Big Oil and big government in my new book, Crude Justice: How I Fought Big Oil and Won, and What You Should Know About the New Environmental Attack on America: http://shop.benbellabooks.com/crude-justice

© Smith Stag, LLC 2015 – All Rights Reserved

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Stuart H. Smith is an attorney based in New Orleans fighting major oil companies and other polluters.
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