Will BP Go the Way of Exxon--Again?

Fact of the Day: J.P. Morgan invented credit-default swaps to extend Exxon a $5 billion line of credit in case it had to pay out the court judgment against it in the Valdez disaster.

ExxonMobil's shareholders will gather today in Dallas. Presumably, they will fête the $26 BILLION that ExxonMobil returned to shareholders in 2009 and the company's massive $6.3 BILLION first quarter profit. Meanwhile, the ongoing BP oil disaster grows increasingly dire with each passing day. As the calls for BP accountability grow louder, it's important to highlight the troubling parallels between BP's response to the oil catastrophe and Exxon's response to the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster.

MUST READ: BP Played Key Role in Botched Exxon Valdez Response
Associated Press: "[T]he leader of botched containment efforts in the critical hours after the tanker ran aground wasn't Exxon Mobil Corp. It was BP PLC, the same firm now fighting to plug the Gulf leak.... People who had a front row seat to the Alaska spill tell The Associated Press that BP's actions in the Gulf suggest it hasn't changed much at all.... Watching the current crisis is like reliving the Valdez disaster for an attorney who headed the legal team for the state-appointed Alaska Oil Spill Commission that investigated the 1989 spill. 'I feel this horrible, sickening feeling,' said Zygmunt Plater, who now teaches law at Boston College."

Exxon actually profited from the Valdez disaster, will BP do the same?

Exxon low-balled spill estimates to save BILLIONS, is BP doing the same?
*BP: "BP's estimate that only 5,000 barrels of oil are leaking daily from a well in the Gulf of Mexico, which the Obama administration hasn't disputed, could save the company millions of dollars in damages when the financial impact of the spill is resolved in court, legal experts say."
*Exxon: "Still, penalties are based on spill volume: Exxon likely saved itself several billion dollars by sticking with its low-end estimate of 11 million gallons and scuttling its high-end estimate of 38 million gallons, later validated by independent surveyors."

Exxon acknowledged responsibility for the Valdez spill, initiated a cleanup, and set up a claims system, but then fought damages in court for 20 years--will BP do the same?

Exxon used outdated, arcane maritime law to evade accountability, BP's partner Transocean is doing the same--after making a $270 million profit from the disaster and paying its shareholders $1 billion in dividends.

Exxon permanently destroyed thousands of Alaskans' way of life, has BP done the same to residents of the Gulf?

An estimated 8,000 plaintiffs died while Exxon spent 20 years fighting them in court, will the same happen to the victims of BP's recklessness?

In addition to these troubling parallels, there have been several other important developments in the ongoing catastrophe this week:

"Very large" signs of trouble came hours before the Deepwater Horizon exploded, but were ignored.

BP-owned Alaska pipeline shut down yesterday after a spill of several thousand barrels of oil.

For the third time, Big Oil's allies in the Senate block legislation to hold BP--not taxpayers--accountable for damage caused by the catastrophe.

• BP CEO Tony Hayward is concerned for safety when in front of the cameras, but BP failed to provide protective gear to fishermen it hired to clean up its mess.

Shocking secret memo reveals that dead workers are just a fairy tale for BP.

• BP's Chairman reminds critics that BP is "big and important" for the U.S.

• Senators demand an investigation into Transocean's massive payout to shareholders amidst its attempts to evade accountability.

• ABC News footage shows underwater nightmare of oil and dispersants.