The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Kierán Suckling, (520) 275-5960

Former BP Boss Tony Hayward Wins 2010 Rubber Dodo Award

BP's 200-million Gallon Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill Was Worst Environmental Disaster in U.S. History, Killing Thousands of Rare and Endangered Species


The Center for Biological Diversity today awarded former BP CEO Tony Hayward its 2010 Rubber Dodo Award. The award is given annually to the person who has done the most to drive endangered species extinct.

Previous winners include massive land speculator Michael Winer (2009), Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (2008) and Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne (2007).

Under Hayward's leadership, BP secured the right to drill for oil in the Gulf of Mexico by submitting documents to the U.S. government falsely claiming that a major spill could not happen. It also submitted a false and ludicrous spill-response plan claiming it could capture spilling oil before the oil caused any environmental or economic damage.

On April 20, BP's risky Deepwater Horizon project exploded, pouring more than 200 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, fouling beaches and wetlands, coating the ocean floor with oil, killing endangered sea turtles and imperiled brown pelicans, and pushing the seriously declining bluefin tuna even closer to extinction.

"If there was ever a deserving Rubber Dodo Award recipient, it is Tony Hayward," said Kieran Suckling, the Center's executive director. "While famously whining that he 'wanted his life back,' Hayward showed no remorse for the thousands of rare and endangered animals BP killed in its spill."

BP's well spilled oil for 87 days, killing at least 6,104 birds, 593 sea turtles and 98 mammals, including dolphins. The huge number of bluefin tuna killed has not been quantified.

"History will remember Hayward as the man at the helm of BP when it unleashed the worst environmental disaster in American history," said Suckling.

"Hayward not only pushed BP into causing the spill by creating a corporate culture of risk-taking and cutting corners, he failed to take responsibility after the spill and make all of BP's resources available to contain it."

Background on the Dodo

In 1598, Dutch sailors landing on the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius discovered a flightless, three-foot-tall, extraordinarily friendly bird. Its original scientific name was Didus ineptus. (Contemporary scientists use the less defamatory Raphus cucullatus.) To the rest of the world, it's the dodo - the most famous extinct species on Earth. It evolved over millions of years with no natural predators and eventually lost the ability to fly, becoming a land-based consumer of fruits, nuts and berries. Having never known predators, it showed no fear of humans or the menagerie of animals accompanying them to Mauritius.

Its trusting nature led to its rapid extinction. By 1681, the dodo was extinct, having been hunted and outcompeted by humans, dogs, cats, rats, macaques and pigs. Humans logged its forest cover and pigs uprooted and ate much of the understory vegetation.

The origin of the name dodo is unclear. It likely came from the Dutch word dodoor, meaning "sluggard," the Portuguese word doudo, meaning "fool" or "crazy," or the Dutch word dodaars meaning "plump-arse" (that nation's name for the little grebe).

The dodo's reputation as a foolish, ungainly bird derives in part from its friendly naivete and the very plump captives that were taken on tour across Europe. The animal's reputation was cemented with the 1865 publication of Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Based on skeleton reconstructions and the discovery of early drawings, scientists now believe that the dodo was a much sleeker animal than commonly portrayed. The rotund European exhibitions were accidentally produced by overfeeding captive birds.

At the Center for Biological Diversity, we believe that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature — to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants. Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. We do so through science, law and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters and climate that species need to survive.

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