18 Questions I Asked at BP's Headquarters (Before Being Jailed)

Last week I was part of an action at BP America’s Houston headquarters that ended with six of us, all Gulf Coast residents, getting thrown into jail and charged with trespassing.

In preparation for our time in the oil giant’s opulent, glass enclosed, multi-level compound, I reached out to Gulf Coast citizens in all five states who have been directly impacted by the 2010 BP Deep Water Drilling Disaster. During our conversations, I asked them if they had an opportunity to ask BP executives any one question regarding the last five years, what would it be? Although their responses varied in subject, I was not surprised that at the heart of it all, justice was their only common interest. It is unfortunate that justice, like answers, have been unbelievably hard to come by in the last 1,823 plus days since this disaster began. Five years later, and we continue to deal with sometimes overwhelming and consistently devastating economic, ecological and human health impacts to our region. 

Image courtesy of RAN.org.

And so, below I submit to you the full list of questions as read aloud to BP at their head corporate office in America on April 15, 2015, complete with the possible truthful response on the behalf of BP (written by me), followed by the official response provided by BP. Read on: 


Q1: How are you planning to clean-up the Rhode Island size ‘bath mat’ recently discovered in the Gulf?

Truthful response: We aren’t. There really is no way to clean up the 3,243 square mile ring of oil, just like there is no way to ensure safe drilling at 23,000 feet below the surface of the water. 

BP’s actual response: 


Q2: Why did you use 1.84 million gallons of the toxic chemical dispersants Corexit, banned in the UK and other countries, when there were less toxic dispersants available?

Truthful response: Well, I mean sure, Corexit is outlawed in the UK because of its adverse effects on marine life, and yes, the United States Environmental Protection Agency did have 12 less toxic dispersants on their list of options, and sure at one point they did demand that we cut our overabundant usage of the stuff, and true it was a science experiment in that it had never been used in such quantities or that far below the surface of the water before, but… wait, what was the question?  

BP’s actual response: 


Q3: Is there anything more important to you than money? 

Truthful response: No. 

BP’s actual response: 


Q4:  Why did you design a health settlement that does not cover all of the people who were exposed

Truthful response: We wanted to make sure that a large number of claimants were pushed into litigation where we could get out our high-priced lawyers to use our bought-and-paid-for science to undercut as many people as possible.

BP’s actual response: 


Q5: Why do you keep delaying paying the settlement that you helped to design? 

Truthful response: That’s easy! It is in our best interest to drag this whole thing out as long as possible. Unfortunately, after the Exxon Valdez spill the public is onto that tactic, so we had to look like we were going to make this easy and do the right thing, while actually playing the same old game as used in other spills – that’s where the repeated attempts to take it to the Supreme Court came in handy! 

BP’s actual response: 


Q6: Why won’t you face the truth of the continuing disaster? 

Truthful response: Who’s going to make us?

BP’s actual response: 


Q7: Why didn’t you take care of the commercial fisherman, those that cleaned-up your oil? Why aren’t you treating them like heroes? 

Truthful response: Don’t take it so personally. We care for the “small people,” we just care for our money a whole, whole, WHOLE lot more

BP's actual response: 


Q8: Why did you spend so much on PR, and then claim that you cannot afford to take care of the people and ecosystem that you injured? 

Truthful response: It’s true, we tripled our advertising budget after the disaster, it’s all about perception you know. However, we can afford to pay what we owe, we were worth over $100 trillion before the spill. And if you take a look at our website, have only spent around $14 billion for the disaster to date. PR is always a good investment if you are going to sell a load to the public.

BP’s actual response: 


Q9: Do you have a conscience? 

Truthful response: No. 

BP’s actual response: 


Q10:  With so much BP oil still unaccounted for, why did you stop clean-up efforts? 

Truthful response:  Please see our answer to Q6 above. 

BP’s actual response: 

Q11: Why do you think you are above the laws that everyone else must live by? If a judgment had been ruled against us, and we not paid, our assets would have been liquidated and sold to pay our debt, why do you think our laws do not apply to you? 

Truthful response: Seriously? That's what they do? We had no idea, I mean, geez...really, we had no idea! It must suck to be you. 

BP’s actual response: 

Q12: How could you be okay with writing off $32 billion, while collecting $10 billion federal tax dollars, between 2010 and 2013? 

Truthful response: We were about $42 billion worth of okay with it. 

BP’s actual response: 


Q13: Why did you burn endangered sea turtles in the oil during the spill

Truthful response:  We did not choose to burn endangered sea turtles, those turtles chose to be burned. Our independent research has confirmed those turtles had every opportunity to turn their crusty shells around and stay out of the oil. They didn't. It must suck to be a turtle too. 

BP’s actual response: 


Q14: Why did you lie to our Congress and doctor photos of clean-up during the height of the spill? 

Truthful response: Dude. Show a little respect for our long history and culture of lies - you act like that's our first lie or something. Remember that Gulf Spill Response plan? Gulf walruses... lol, I mean really. Plus, anybody who thought we could really clean up all that oil was actually lying to themselves. 

 BP’s actual response: 


Q15: Do you know what false advertising means? 

Truthful response: We take our commitment to false advertising very seriously. In fact, lies and false advertising flow out of our lips almost as easily as oil did out of our ruptured well.

BP’s actual response: 


Q16: When will you invest in the Gulf Coast in a way that is sustainable for the people and ecosystem that you depend on? 

Truthful response: We won't.

BP’s actual response: 


Q17: Why did you bury the oil, and how are you going to clean it up now? 

Truthful response: Ha! You're still on that "clean it up" kick? 

BP’s actual response: 


Q18: We invite you to come and see and hear the continuing damage that your company has caused. Will you come fish off our boat?

Truthful response: Sorry, uh-uh, nope! Good heavens, then we might be held responsible for the ongoing impacts we have paid billions to publicly deny. 

BP’s actual response: 


Trust me, I won’t be holding my breath waiting for the truthful responses to make their way out of BP executives' shiny white teeth. Meanwhile, we will go to our first court appearance on the trespassing charge this Wednesday, April 22. It is interesting that this is the same day that we celebrate Earth Day, and also five years to the day that the oil started to pour into the Gulf from the fractured well pipe of the Deepwater Horizon. Which leads us to a question for ourselves. 

Q: When will we end the struggle to hold BP accountable for the devastation that they have caused our communities, our cultures, and ecosystems in the Gulf Coast region? 

Truthful response: When BP commercials are actually true, and they have “made it right.”

Actual response: Never.