Category Archives: Business

BP Oil Spill Promotes Green Jobs Through Oil Cleanup Effort

The April 20, 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion killed 11 workers and resulted in a massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the worst spill in United States history. Millions of gallons of oil have leaked into the Gulf, and over 78,000 square miles of fishing area have been closed. One bright spot amidst this tragedy is the increase in green jobs needed to clean up the oil and to figure out how to stop the leak. Environmental activists are hoping that the push for renewable energy as a result of the spill may create longer term green collar jobs.

Green Jobs Available in Several States

Since the spill, BP has hired over 25,000 workers to assist with oil clean up efforts. States such as Florida, Alabama, Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi have set up specific websites for residents looking for spill response work. Approximately 400 positions have become available in Florida’s Walton and Okaloosa counties alone.

Job positions include anything from marine scientists, to field technicians, to coastal modelers. Employers include state and federal agencies, but also private engineering and construction firms, oil and gas companies, and emergency response firms. Some universities are also starting to expand research opportunities to study the impacts of the spill on wildlife and the economy.

Florida’s Monroe County is preparing for any spill impact on the Florida Keys by recruiting up to 300 unemployed residents to become Qualified Community Responders (QCRs). Coming from all parts of the Keys, these workers will receive paid QCR training on hazardous waste management. Over 500 QCR’s are being trained in five other Florida counties.

Hazwoper Certification Needed for Many Oil Spill Cleanup Positions

Many employers are willing to train on the job. One major requirement to work on remediation sites is the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Hazwoper certification. Hazwoper stands for Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response. It corresponds to an OSHA standard that considers oil cleanup and containment an emergency response activity.

Workers that receive the Hazwoper training gain valuable skills. Topics of the training cover essentials such as toxicology, hazard recognition, medical surveillance, air monitoring, emergency procedures, and other areas. Workers who are temporarily visiting the oil spill site can do a 24 hour training; workers who will be on site everyday (considered general workers) must complete a 40 hour training.

Renewable Energy Cries Might Spur Green Collar Jobs in the Future

According to the green collar job advocates, Green for All, green collar jobs are ones that improve the environment, promote clean energy, and lift lower income individuals into the middle class. The oil spill has moved renewable energy advocates to pressure the government to address the dangers of relying on non-renewable sources and to expand the clean energy industry.

One long term goal for organizations like Green for All is to create a green economy. Currently workforce development programs exist to train youth and those currently unemployed or underemployed to work in green industries such as solar and wind energy production and energy conservation.

President Obama unveiled a plan to promote more clean energy jobs in January that would create 17,000 jobs. In his Oval Office address to the nation about the oil spill, he concluded by discussing America’s need to transition to using green energy sources and the jobs that are becoming available.

BP Oil Spill Brings Green Jobs and New Found Urgencies for a Green Economy

BP’s oil spill created a spike in job creation around the cleanup effort. Job websites post thousands of positions, many of which offer on the job training. Green energy activists are urging politicians to act now on moving towards a green economy with the hope that future employment growth can be in the green collar job sector.

British Petroleum Has More Than One Oil Spill to Contend With

British Petroleum–BP–has its hands full these days with the major oil spill that continues to flow in the Gulf of Mexico. Another oil spill, this one in Alaska that occurred in May 2010 also involves this corporate giant.

An 800 mile stretch of pipeline happened at a pump station in Fort Greely, located approximately 100 miles south of Fairbanks, Alaska. 100,000 gallons of oil were spilled during a scheduled pipeline shutdown. Problems with a main system power failure caused the pump system to go to its back-up battery power. But the battery-powered system malfunctioned, causing a relief valve not to close.

The pipeline is owned by various oil companies, but BP holds the largest chunk at 47 percent ownership.

Workers at the site were evacuated, with no injuries occurring. A report. by an Alaskan State Department of Environmental Conservation on-site spill coordinator indicated that the spill was confined to the pump station’s containment area (Huffington Post).

In September 2009, a natural gas line owned by BP exploded, sending shrapnel flying across the landscape. The recently formed Alaskan state Petroleum Systems Integrity Office (PSIO) determined that corrosion of the pipe was the reason for the explosion. Although no one was injured or any material leaked from the pipe, there was a potential for the occurrence to have had more dramatic consequences.

The PSIO had been less than pleased with the response by BP to this explosion, and as recently as February 2010 was still seeking appropriate documentation from the oil company about the incident and preventative measures for the future. The agency’s hands are tied by-and-large because it has merely an overseer position; it cannot impose penalties or enforce laws/regulations.

BP spokesman Steve Rinehart acknowledged the September 2009 incident by stating, “This had the potential to be a more serious event, and we are taking it seriously” (Reuters). Additionally Rinehart stated, There was not a recording method in place sufficient to make sure that this spot got onto the to-do list to inspect when the snow was gone. Now there is.”

It is frightening to consider if a company as large and experienced as BP had no plan in place to inspect their lines, snow or no snow, what other details have been overlooked.

Petroleum Problems

I try to make it a point to avoid the news. Beyond whatever headlines catch my attention when I log on each day, I ignore the reports of hardships and sorrows the world over. I have enough right here that I fail miserably at dealing with, I really don’t need to try to take on the rest of the world’s problems. Even when I was told that BP turned away aid from others, I chose to be silent in my dissatisfaction. Enough is enough though.

I owned my own business, I understand that, in order to maintain any business, one must be cost efficient. The bigger the business, the more decisions must be weighed against the good of the company verses over-all good. If the company fails, there is more than the owners or shareholders out of a livelihood. When it comes to a business involved in current technology, such as the fuel for the cars Americans cannot figure out how to use responsibly, decisions have more variables to consider. The same people who are complaining about protecting the wildlife, are going to be complaining later about the high price of the fuel they use to get to their rallies. It becomes imperative to weigh the effects of cost and time through the course of normal business.

But there is also a responsibility in conducting business. It may have been legal for me to put whips and chains in the front window of my lingerie store located in a small town with Southern sensibilities, and it may have even been good for business with the kinds of secret lives people lead, but it wouldn’t have been a good choice. It likely would have made me more money, if only because controversy creates advertisement, but it would not have served the greater good of the community itself.

Maybe it’s easier for one person to make a good choice than it is for a corporation like BP. There are a great many people who have to think like-minded all at once, which is often a problem in any environment. Corporate responsibility, not that of the corporation itself, but the responsibility of each individual within the corporation to the corporation, can cloud judgment. The individual finds themselves attempting to adhere to a set of corporate objectives that were written, not for a specific situation, but to cover many different types of decisions. Often those include a primary objective of being fiscally responsible. Even safety is more about not increasing the company’s insurance over insuring the health and well-fare of it’s individuals.

Perhaps that is why the officials at BP made such serious errors in judgment. IN spite of several quotes from various records revealed throughout the investigation, the problems of this spill cannot be laid upon one person. We all know that one person can stand up against what they know to be wrong, and can risk their job-their family’s well-being-to do the “Right” thing. That’s a tough call to make, and in this uncertain economy, a dangerous one.

So who is responsible then? The company. Just like H & S and Wal-mart being held responsible for the destruction of unsold seasonal clothing several months ago, I am holding BP directly responsible for this disaster. There should be no question of cost; absolutely everything that can be done, should be done to rectify this situation. If they cannot, the American government should step in, even inviting known terrorists to participate in this clean up if they are available and willing. Life isn’t nice and neat; sometimes you have to lie with the enemy to serve a greater order.

Serving the greater order also means holding others responsible for their actions. There is sure to be no end to the twists and turns revealed in the investigation, and it is just as probable that it will be continued beyond necessity. I have seen enough myself to have assurances that the company British Petroleum, neglected reasonable suggestions by individuals with appropriate knowledge, contributing to the current disaster. They are also unwilling to accept this responsibility as well as unable to resolve the issue. The American government should immediately stop all BP drilling on American lands and give them a set time to remove their drilling equipment before confiscation. Will this create a diplomatic issue? Only if the British government decides to be unreasonable. BP is a company, not a country.

Not that I expect the US government to take my advice. I do, however, expect the American people to do so. Our government is only as good as the individuals who support it. If you continue to purchase anything from BP, you are supporting their position. Do you really believe they are doing their best effort to clean up their mess, or do you think they are trying to save their butts? Do you believe they could have prevented such a catastrophe by listening to the advice of their own people, or do you support fiscal responsibility above the environment? There is a balance to all things, but that doesn’t mean it is always even. The scale has been tipped in a way I find unacceptable, and I intend to do something about it instead of just complain. What’s your stand?