‘Profit comes before human lives and ecology for oil companies’
Thousands of barrels of crude have been flowing down the streets of a US town in the southern state of Arkansas after an Exxon-Mobil oil pipeline burst last Friday, forcing residents to flee their homes.
The company has mounted a clean-up effort, but so far has not fully explained how the pipe ruptured or when it will be fixed.
Political commentator Caleb Maupin believes Americans must not stay silent if they don’t want similar incidents to repeat itself in other places across the country.
RT:The pipe that ruptured and leaked oil was more than 60 years old. What does this tell us about the state of fuel infrastructure in the US?
Caleb Maupin: Well, all across the US there are problems with the infrastructure. The water in the US is largely not being purified and isn’t clean and safe in some areas. You got bridges that are falling apart. And all the money that should be going to take care on these basic societal needs is going to war. Billions and billions of dollars are spent every day to bomb and destroy people; at hi-tech drones and all kinds of weapons. But basic societal health is being neglected as war comes first in the US budget.
RT:A recent report from the Department of Transportation has stated there has been almost one oil spill a day in the past year. What's going on in the industry?
CM: The oil companies exist to make profits. They aren’t interested in keeping people safe. They are for-profit institutions and that’s what they’re about. You know, in financial terms they refer to the cause whether to the environment or to the people or the workers. They refer to those things as externalities. This is external. And you don’t calculate them into the final cost. Oil companies are trying to make money. They are profit making institutions and if the Earth and the people are killed – these things are secondary to the first concern, which is to make profits.
RT:The pipe was carrying heavy tar sand crude – it's incredibly difficult to clean up. The proposed Keystone pipeline will carry the same type of oil from Canada to Texas. Will this incident impact that project?
CM: We can hope it will because there’ve been massive demonstrations against the Keystone pipeline. There have been demonstrations in Washington, DC, and Canada and other places. You know people really need to reconsider. It’s all about making money. And money is coming at the expense of human life, the expense of the Earth, the expense of basic societal health. Millions of people are waking up, but the Democratic and the Republican parties are pretty much working for the oil companies and the banks that have money to be made of this destruction. You know, it’s the matter of the people being in the streets and fighting for justice. That would be the determining factor.
RT:What are the potential hazards to the Arkansas community that was affected by this incident?
CM: The effect could linger on for decades. The drinking water could be affected; the growth of plants. People can suffer from this. We won’t know for maybe 50 years the results this will have. This is an outrage. It’s unfortunate that the government hasn’t stepped in to protect people. And if that means restricting the interests of profitmaking corporations and oil companies – that’s what needs to happen. But, you know, the result is that the people need to be in the streets, they need to stand up to these profit-making companies. They are about making money and so they’re going to hurt people in the process. We’re externalities as far as they are concerned.
RT:Is the government likely to take action against Exxon over the spill?
CM: The only hope we have for the government taking action against Exxon is if the people force them to do it. Every positive game that has ever come was in the struggle whether it’s the labor protection, whether it’s environmental legislation in the past. It all came through being in the streets, through demonstrating, through organizing and fighting back. This is a capitalist government. They work for the banks and the corporations and they will do what they say unless the people intervene and fight back.