The Center for Biological Diversity has awarded former BP CEO Tony Hayward its 2010 Rubber Dodo Award. This award is given annually to the person who has done the most to drive Earth’s endangered species to extinction.
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, 2010 BP’s risky Deepwater Horizon project exploded, pouring more than 200 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, fouling and coating the beaches, wetlands, and the ocean floor with oil, killing endangered sea turtles and imperiled brown pelicans, and pushing the bluefin tuna even closer to extinction.
The well spewed oil for 87 days, killing at least 6,104 birds, 593 sea turtles and 98 mammals, including dolphins. The huge number of seriously declining bluefin tuna that have been killed has not been quantified. And we still don’t know what the long term environmental damage from this massive oil spill will be.
“If there was ever a deserving Rubber Dodo Award recipient, it is Tony Hayward,” said Kierán 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.”
“History will remember Hayward as the man at the helm of BP when it unleashed the worst environmental disaster in American history.”
2009 – massive land speculator Michael Winer – for his leadership of TAREX, the largest stockholder in companies developing the largest pieces of private land remaining in Southern California and Florida. These regions are also home to some of the highest numbers of endangered species in North America. In California, TAREX is pushing the Tejon Ranch Company to pave over thousands of acres of federally designated California condor habitat. In Florida, TAREX is pushing the St. Joe Company to flood tens of thousands of acres of the Florida Panhandle with high-end developments.
2008 – then Alaska Governor Sarah Palin – who sought to remove Endangered Species Act protection for the Polar Bear, suppressed and lied about state global warming studies, and denied that global warming is caused by greenhouse gas emissions. Palin waged a deceptive public relations campaign, asserting that the polar bear is increasing. But many populations (including Alaska’s southern Beaufort Sea) are in decline, and two-thirds (including all Alaska bears) are projected to disappear by 2050 by the U.S. Geological Survey.
2007 – the first annual Rubber Dodo Award went to Dirk Kempthorne, the U.S. Secretary of the Interior in the Bush administration from 2006–2009. As of September 2007, Kempthorne held the record for protecting fewer species over his tenure than any other Interior Secretary in United States history, a record previously held by James G. Watt for over 20 years. Environmental groups characterized him as someone who has “almost always favored changing laws like the Endangered Species Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act to make them more favorable to commercial interests.”
Background on the Extinction of 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 is 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.
And its trusting nature led to its extremely rapid extermination. By 1681, the Dodo was extinct, having been hunted down and out-competed by humans, dogs, cats, rats, macaques, and pigs.