Taking a hard line on BP

(Chris Ratcliffe/bloomberg)
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By Courtland Milloy
Wednesday, June 16, 2010

How could anybody pump gas at a BP filling station these days? Look closely at their logo. That's no environmental green and sunny yellow circle. It's a toxic, flesh-eating spore. Just touching one of their slimy nozzles ought to be enough to make you hurl.

That's how I see it. And you should, too. Everybody ought to heed the call by the Washington-based consumer watchdog group Public Citizen to boycott BP filling stations.

Driving past one in Charles County the other day, I could hardly believe my eyes: Customers had the station's six gasoline pumps humming.

One of them said she was angry at BP for causing the disastrous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. But her GMC Yukon SUV was running low on gas. "I put in the bare minimum amount, $10," she said.

An attempt to salve a conscience troubled by compromise on principle, no doubt. Not good enough.

Come on, people. We'll never break our over-dependence on oil if we can't even pass on gas sold under the banner of a corporation that cares so little for our health and safety.

"BP appears to have made multiple decisions for economic reasons that increased the danger of a catastrophic well failure," according to a report released Monday by the House Energy and Commerce committee.

Judging from the litany of shortcuts and sloppy work laid out in the report, the multibillion dollar oil giant was behaving no better than a jackleg plumber who goes door-to-door ripping off unsuspecting customers. Let's say somebody's home exploded, the residents killed and the neighborhood evacuated because a plumber didn't want to spend extra money to get the gas line properly tested.

Would you still patronize that business?

BP says a boycott would be ill-advised because most of the 10,000 BP filling stations in the United States are independently operated.

"I would urge consumers to think about who actually gets hurt with their boycotts," said John Kleine, executive director of Savannah, Ga.-based BPAMA, a trade group representing BP and Amoco gas station and convenience store owners and operators. Speaking to ABC News, Kleine added, "Ultimately, small, local entrepreneurs and their families are the ones who get hurt and not necessarily BP."

There will always be a reason not to take the painful steps required to change our behavior.

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