William Freudenburg, Dehlsen professor of environmental studies at UCSB, just published a new book criticizing the BP oil spill and subsequent interpretation of national energy and oil policies.
In his book Blowout In The Gulf: The BP Oil Disaster and the Future of Energy in America, professor Freudenburg and his colleague Robert Gramling, professor of sociology at University of Louisiana at Lafayette, critically analyzed the decisions made by Big Oil in recent history and the lobbying power behind Big Oil. The authors also questioned the American people’s drive to hold government accountable and how these factors influence the future of American fuel and energy.
According to Freudenburg, the book was written with incredible speed.
“We wrote it stem to stern in sixty days,” Freudenburg said. “I’ve written books before, but they’ve taken five to 10 years.”
Freudenburg, who has 30 years of experience in technological risk management, said his time on a national scientific advisory board — a U.S. Dept. of the Interior branch that works with offshore oil leasing — helped fuel the fire to write his book.
“They never bothered taking our advice when we were on any committee,” Freudenburg said, referring to himself and co-author Gramling. “I don’t care if I make any money on it. I just want enough people to buy it for it to make an impact.”
According to Freudenburg, BP made dangerous cutbacks in safety protocol four to five years before the oil spill.
“The oil industry has put millions of dollars into lobbying, and the few people in the House and Senate talking about regulations just got nowhere,” Freudenburg said. “The net result is that it’s good for the oil industry, bad for the overall economy.”
Jenn Lavelle, a No on Prop 23 campaign organizer, said she and Freudenburg are fighting the same battle and sending out similar messages.
“The oil spill in the gulf is a sign that the U.S. is going down the wrong energy path,” Lavelle said. “Prop 23 would … increase our dependence on dirty and dangerous energy sources and dismantle our clean energy economy.”
Freudenburg said he is concerned that American people are not getting a fair share of compensation or information from the government.
“We should be charging oil companies for the oil they’re removing from California,” Freudenburg said.
Freudenburg said countries such as Norway and Vietnam receive 75 to 85 percent royalties from drilling operations, while the average in the United States is closer to 40 percent.
Professor Freudenburg will be giving a public lecture about his book and its themes on Nov. 15 in Broida Hall.
Eric Zimmerman, a coordinator for the environmental studies program, said this lecture will give students and community members a chance to learn about how oil affects them while allowing them to ask personal questions and meet the authors.
“We’re still in the stages of finalizing it, but it will be at 5 [p.m.] and there will be a book signing.”