For Immediate Release
New BP CEO Must Do More Than Give the Company a PR Facelift
Statement of Tyson Slocum, Director, Public Citizen’s Energy Program
WASHINGTON - We've seen it before: BP installs a new CEO and promises big change.
But it doesn't happen; witness the continuation of BP's horrific
safety record after outgoing CEO Tony Hayward was elevated to the top
spot in 2007. Hayward promised to focus "like a leaser beam" on safety.
So much for that.
BP's culture of recklessness runs deep. Cutting corners in the name
of efficiency is the company's MO. As a consequence, we saw the 2005
Texas City refinery explosion that killed 15 workers and came right
after a consultant warned about perilous conditions at the refinery, the
2006 Prudhoe Bay pipeline spill and the current Gulf of Mexico
disaster. It is clear that BP prioritizes short-term profits at the
expense of worker safety and the environment.
Incoming CEO Robert Dudley must initiate a top-to-bottom
reconstruction of the company and resist the urge to simply do a PR
facelift of the kind favored by Hayward and his predecessor, Lord John
Browne. Americans rightly demand corporate responsibility, and Dudley
must deliver by fixing a broken BP culture and instituting reforms that
prioritize safety and environmental stewardship. Such a commitment must
be felt in the ranks of managers and employees - not simply echoed on
expensive TV ads.
Just as important, Dudley owes it to the communities in the Gulf and
beyond to pledge the full resources of the company to paying what is
owed. Dudley must assure families harmed by the ongoing crisis that he
will take no steps to shield BP's assets from exposure to liabilities
stemming from the Gulf disaster. If the company is genuine in its claim
to wanting to turn the company around, this would be a good start.
Public Citizen is a national, nonprofit consumer advocacy organization founded in 1971 to represent consumer interests in Congress, the executive branch and the courts.