BP On Trial: “Gross Negligence” in Oil Spill

Yesterday in New Orleans, a trial began to assess whether BP was grossly negligent during the 2010 BP oil spill.  Suffice to say, BP was not only grossly negligent, but the spill itself was grossly gross.  The federal government estimates that 4.1 million barrels of oil were spilled into the gulf of Mexico, making it the largest accidental spill in the history of the industry.  The explosion and sinking of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig that kickstarted the uncontrollable gushing of oil claimed 11 human lives initially, and the resulting spill claimed the lives of millions if not billions of aquatic creatures, plants and birds.  BP-Deepwater-Horizon-005

BP already plead guilty to 11 counts of manslaughter in 2012, and now faces governments, businesses and individuals claiming that BP’s negligence caused the spill and they should be made to pay to rectify (if even possible) the damages done.  BP must prove that its actions don’t meet the legal definition of “gross negligence”, which would force them to pay the highest amount for the damage.  In this public statement, BP General Counsel Rupert Bondy said this:oil-spill

“Gross negligence is a very high bar that BP believes cannot be met in this case.  This was a tragic accident, resulting from multiple causes and involving multiple parties. We firmly believe we were not grossly negligent.”

However, as Kristen Hayes from Reuters writes, “Oil came ashore from Texas to Florida, threatening livelihoods and state economies dependent on seafood and tourism, so the list of plaintiffs is long.”  Most people feel that the case will be settled before Judge Carl Barbier –who is hearing the case without a jury– is able to issue a verdict.

If Judge Barbier does decide that BP was grossly negligent, BP will be forced to pay $4,300 per barrel spilled, as per the Clean Water Act.  With a figure of 4.1 million barrels spilled, this would move $17.6 billion out of BPs hands and into the hands of the American public.  If, however, Judge Barbier rules that they were merely negligent, the fine would be $1,100 per barrel spilled.crab-bp-oil-spill-lg

Environmental groups have publicly opposed rumours that the company will settle for $16 billion, saying that this sum and even the maximum of $17.6 billion is inadequate to repay the damage done or to discourage dangerous offshore drilling.  “A potential settlement as low as the reported $16 billion would not be much of a deterrent for an oil giant like BP — and it is unlikely to be enough to fully restore the Gulf of Mexico as the law requires. The Obama Administration can and must do more to hold BP accountable,” said Larry Schweiger, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation.BP-Stops-Oil-31

While it will be satisfying for most people to see BP shell out for their deplorable and utterly gross mistakes in the Gulf of Mexico, it seems that the fury and frustration that people are directing at the company should really be directed at the industry in general.  BP has become the poster child for everything unacceptable, underhanded, unjust and unforgivable about the tireless profit-seeking missions of Big Oil, and of our governments’ shameless eagerness to get in bed with the industry’s giants.  While cutting a chunk out of BP’s wallet is both deserved and required, disasters such as these will continue unabated until we dismantle and debilitate the industry, and move to a clean, just and sustainable green energy future.  Even if spills did cease completely, the emissions from burning up the oil that is drilled will continue to bring on even more hellish and ruinous disasters through climate change.  It’s time for us to think beyond simple retribution –it’s time for us to think about an energy revolution.

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One Comment on “BP On Trial: “Gross Negligence” in Oil Spill”

  1. kmcgiveron March 1, 2013 at 6:30 am #

    Reblogged this on Going Sustainable and commented:
    Our world. What will you do?

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