If you’re an environmentalist, or even a conservationist for that matter, the prospect of Terry McAuliffe becoming governor of Virginia should utterly terrify you.
While Terry will return the money he took from a scam artist who stole the identities of terminally ill people, he hasn’t returned the $120,000 he got from the Liberian International Ship and Corporation Registry (LISCR), which acts as an official arm of the Liberian government as it peddles their “flag of convenience” scam against the rest of the world. This entity actively facilitates lax regulations and non-enforcement of basic maritime safety for international shipping so that Liberia can boost their foreign currency income by 25% while major shipping conglomerates save billions of dollars by avoiding any effective oversight whatsoever. Liberia wins, huge shipping companies win, and the rest of the world loses.
The result, quite predictably, is that unsafe ships operated by poorly trained crews have accidents that would have been entirely preventable had some degree of oversight and regulation been applied. Liberian-flagged vessels have had more maritime accidents resulting in vastly greater environmental damage to our oceans and waterways than any other, even though Liberian-flagged vessels only account for about 25% of the international shipping fleet.
Let’s look at just a two of these incidents, which amount to ten times the environmental damage that was caused by the Exxon Valdez.
In 1978 the Amaco Cadiz broke apart and sank three miles off the short of Brittany, France. It released 220,000 tons of crude oil, resulting in a twelve mile-long oil slick that fouled two hundred miles of shoreline and only one-tenth of the oil spilled was ever recovered. It caused the largest loss of marine life in maritime history, eradicating several species of marine animals and 20,000 dead birds were recovered. Oil residue can still be found on the beaches of Brittany, thirty-five years later.
Men onboard during the day of the spill said they were up against tremendous seas, rain and hail. At 10:45 a.m. on March 16, the rudder was reported to have stopped responding to the helm. Attempts to regain control with backup steering failed as heavy links began “snapping like cotton.”
On March 25, Premier Raymond Barre announced the wreck was caused by “grave negligence,” and prohibited tankers from coming within 11 kilometers of the French coast. The master of the tanker, Capt. Pasquale Bardari, was put under investigation and eventually charged with breaking French pollution laws.
In 1991 the Liberian-flagged ABT Summer mysteriously exploded off the coast of Angola and burned for three days before it sank. It was far enough out to sea that the environmental impact wasn’t significant at the coast, but the area was a rich fishing ground that acted as a nutritional lifeline to dozens of towns and cities along the southern African coast. These fisheries were devastated.
The flames enveloping the tanker ship raged uncontrollably for about three days before sinking to the water’s depths during which time, over 2, 50,000 tonnes of the laded oil cargo started to spill and spread onto the water surface. In entirety, the oil film coating the water surface spanned a distance of almost 80 miles circumferentially to the vessel’s location at the time of the accident.
What’s consistent between these two legendary environmental disasters? Negligence. A sound regulatory and oversight system, such as the United States provides over vessels flying our flag prevent the kind of maritime disasters that have so plagued Liberian-flagged vessels. Instead, Liberia gives a cheap “out” to companies that don’t care about operating safely and only concerned about this quarter’s profits.
So what interest could the Liberian International Ship and Corporation Registry have in Terry McAuliffe winning his race as Governor of Virginia? It’s hard to say for sure, but you can bet that they’re not giving him $120,000 because they like his policies on expanding Route 58 to four lanes from Portsmouth all the way out to Martinsville. Virginia may finally have oil exploration starting off our coast and international shipping concerns will have an economic interest in that activity. If LISCR thinks investing $120,000 into getting goodwill from Terry McAuliffe is a wise investment, you should be awfully concerned whether lax regulations and nonexistent oversight are a part of the return they hope to obtain from that investment.
It is certainly curious that about the time LISCR made this donation to Terry, he shifted his position from one of opposing offshore drilling off Virginia’s coast to one of being somewhat in favor of it, depending on the audience. When a candidate openly brags in his book that Governors get to hand out all sorts of favors to all sorts of people, such changes don’t look a whole lot like coincidence.
Now let me tell you, it’s a lot easier to raise money for a governor. They have all kinds of business to hand out, road contracts, construction jobs, you name it. — Terry McAuliffe, “What A Party!” St. Martins Press, 2007, page 77
The opinions expressed here are solely the views of the author, and not representative of the position of any organization, political party, doughnut shop, knitting guild, or waste recycling facility, but may be correctly attributed to the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy. If anything in the above article has offended you, please click here to receive an immediate apology.
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