Environmentalists and other keen observers have long contended that Big Oil gets away with murder with regards to the human and environmental costs of its exploitation of fossil fuels (with help, of course, from strategic government allies). This sentiment runs strong in journalist Mike Magner’s Poisoned Legacy: The Human Cost of BP’s Rise to Power (St. Martin’s Press), a book laden with heinous accounts of corruption, greed and irresponsibility on the part of one of the world’s largest oil companies. In it, Magner exposes a series of safety and health controversies surrounding British Petroleum in addition to the 2010 Gulf oil spill, an event caused, he writes, “by cutting costs to boost profits at the expense of worker safety and environmental stewardship.”
Poisoned Legacy provides a vista on the network of corporations, government organizations, nonprofits, small businesses and individuals who have both benefited and suffered at the hands of BP. The book also examines how the oil company greenwashed its advertising and public relations [i.e. “Beyond Petroleum”], while continuing to ignore the environmental harm stemming from its operations.Magner tracks explosions at several BP plants over the last few decades resulting in deaths, rising leukemia rates and other illnesses in towns where it has bypassed enforcement of environmental regulations. And he walks readers through the missteps and misdeeds leading to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster and resulting oil spill. Using hard facts and personal stories, Magner examines the implications of BP’s story from legal, political and ultimately human levels.