Is British Petroleum at Fault for the Oil Spill?

In our Mineful Monthly Poll, we examined public opinion regarding the oil spill off the coast of Louisiana, more particularly who was at fault and who should fix it. The Deepwater Horizon oil spill continues to cause numerous problems and the United States government has labeled British Petroleum (BP) as the responsible party. While BP has accepted responsibility for the spill and clean up, they are not taking the blame. BP points the finger at Transocean, who's personnel were running the rig at the time of the incident.

So the U.S. says it's BP; BP says it's Transocean; fingers are being pointed at Halliburton's cement work and lack of a preventer plug. Who's really at fault? Who should fix it? And what kind of impact will this have on the environment? We may never know what the actual answers are, but in the court of public opinion the verdict is in: BP, how do you plead?

Photo courtesy of "BP Exec - Nick Turner"

According to our poll, 56% of respondents believe that BP is at fault for the spill in the Gulf. That is an overwhelming figure and a clear majority of the blame being pointed at BP. Compare that to 8% for both Transocean and the United States government and 4% to natural causes. 12% of respondents weren't sure who is to blame, and 13% felt it was someone else's fault (among the responses for "Other": "all of the above" and "people who use gas/oil" were most popular. One person wrote "We are"; so you're admitting you caused it?).

When it comes to fixing the spill, BP's responsibility jumps to 65%, an increase of 9% over the percentage of respondents who felt BP is at fault. The U.S. government remains steady at 8%, with the others dropping. Transocean comes in at 6%, Nature at 2%, and Unsure and Other at 10% apiece (among those who responded "Other", most felt BP and Transocean should both be responsible). So why the differing opinion between who is at fault and who should fix it? It could be because BP is the principal developer of the oil field, giving them a sense of "ownership" to the problem, even if they didn't cause it.

Regardless of who is responsible for causing or fixing the spill, everyone agreed on one thing: this spill will have an impact on fish, coral, and other sea life. 58% believe the impact will be huge, affecting most or all species. 35% believe the impact will be noticeable and affect several species, while only 8% believe the impact will be minimal. No one thinks everything will be fine.

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