EP: Baton Rouge – In the oil infested toxic swamp now surrounding his house in southern Louisiana, George Jones methodically scoops a bucket full of oil into a makeshift tank. “It has been a tough past couple weeks” he said, struggling to capture the oily residues that contaminates his property, “lost my job, my property is basically ruined and all the fish that used to live here are all dead.” However, Mr. Jones’ troubles continue to mount. He recently recieved a letter from British Petroleum (BP), the company responsible for the oil spill, that he will be charged market rates for all the oil that he collects from his property. “This is insane” said George “is there a scenario where these people don’t make money?”
During a press conference today CEO of BP Tony Hayward announced that as a part of the overall recovery effort, BP will be charging all non-BP clean-up crews for oil collected from the ocean on a per liter basis. “If you think about it, that oil belongs to us, and it still does even if its spilled all over the ocean” explained Hayward. Later in the conference he articulated the rationale behind the decision, “our shareholders will want to make sure that whether our oil is fueling a vehicle or filling the lungs of some pelican, they get some return on it.” The move will likely be considered highly controversial given BP’s admitted responsibility in what is now estimated to be a $625 million clean up operation. “Look, I think its only reasonable here. This oil spill is literally a drop in the ocean. I saw on the Discovery channel the other day that there are 326 million trillion gallons of water on earth, and what are we spilling right now – 75,000 gallons a day? Probably more? Thats not a lot when you think about it. What isn’t a drop in the ocean are my quarterly earnings reports.” added Hayward during the question and answer session.
Environmental activists were upset by the announcement, arguing that asking people to pay for cleaning up the oil spill is outrageous. However, response from the White House was muted. “You know, personally I wouldn’t charge people for the oil they clean up because I think that is in bad taste, and so does the President” said Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, “but they have a point, it is their oil. I mean, if i dropped a dollar bill on the street, technically it would be my right to ask whoever picked it up to give it back to me.”
Jim Johnson, a professor at the London School of Economics, believes that the oil industry is taking this opportunity to reassert itself in the economy. “Look, its been embarassing for the oil executives to watch as Wall Street bankers continue to fleece the American public for billions and billions of dollars. They really want to show the world that no one manipulates policy and markets for personal financial gain better than they do.”