Whose Side Are You On?


For those keeping score at home, BP scored another grand-slam last week, courtesy of the U.S. Coast Guard. Citing unnamed “local officials,” the Coast Guard put a restrictive zone around all the equipment working on the oil spill. They settled for keeping the press, and everyone else, back 35 feet after initially wanting 300 feet.

It’s a huge deal … and for many, it’s the last straw for the “whose side are you on?” debate. The debate began back in the early days of estimating the spill volume, when it seemed the government and BP concocted “official estimates” that left independent experts, including some advising the government, scratching their heads. You can pick your issues since then, from worker health to BP transparency, and the government seemed to defer to the corporation.

This may have finally ended whatever remained of that debate. Even if the Coast Guard can find some local officials willing to say they were the ones making the complaints, there are many more locals scoffing at the “safety zone.” And the region’s most important newspapers are becoming champions of the issue.

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

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