I'll give BP some credit: they've gotten a little better at PR. Over the last two days, Google News reports over one hundred thousand hits on the phrase "cut and cap," BP's description of its latest attempt to contain the oil being spewed from its leaking well.
"Cut and cap" has a nice sound to it -- thanks to the word "cap." After all, doesn't everybody want to cap this well so we can stop the oil flow?
The only problem with BP's "cut and cap" operation is that it won't cap anything. At best, it will allow BP to salvage some of the oil (hopefully a substantial amount), but it won't stop the leak, and it won't keep oil from escaping. And whenever there's a serious storm, the drill site will need to be abandoned, and the oil will flow without restriction, just as has been for the past six weeks, except the flow rate will be around 20% greater because the salvage operation requires BP to make a clean cut on its riser piping, giving BP's containment dome easier access to the leaking oil at the expense of increasing the flowrate.
Let's hope we don't have to endure the worst case scenario, an unabated flow of oil and gas through August. But let's also not forget that if we are fortunate enough to have BP's salvage operation work, we'll still have a leaking well 5,000 feet below the surface, and it will still be spewing oil into the Gulf. Just not as much.
BP's "cut and cap" phrase is a rather ingenious use of the English language to conceal the true nature of what's going on. Maybe hiring a Dick Cheney aide to be their new PR flack will pay dividends. But it's too bad they didn't put half as much energy into preventing this disaster as they are now in spinning it.