BP in $18.7 billion settlement over 2010 oil spill

BP on July 2 reached a settlement that will require the company to pay $18.7 billion in penalties and damages to settle all claims regarding the 2010 Gulf oil spill. The agreement, the largest corporate settlement in US history, will add to the $43.8 billion that BP had budgeted for penalties and cleanup costs, bringing the total cost of the spill for BP to $53.8 billion. The settlement with the US Department of Justice and the affected Gulf states specifically requires the company to pay at least $12.8 billion in penalties stipulated under the Clean Water Act and natural resource damages. Another $4.9 billion will go to the affected states. [An additional $1 billion will be paid to local governments.] Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch in a statement said, "Since the Deepwater Horizon oil spill—the largest environmental disaster in our nation's history—the Justice Department has been fully committed to holding BP accountable... The Deepwater trial team has fought aggressively in federal court for an outcome that would achieve this mission, proving along the way that BP's gross negligence resulted in the Deepwater disaster."

The April 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill has had far-reaching and catastrophic environmental and economic effects. In March the US government appealed a federal court ruling that reduced the potential liability BP faces under the Clean Water Act in relation to the spill. In February, District Court Judge Carl Barbier of the US District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana rejected a motion by BP to reduce the civil fine payable under the Clean Water Act. BP's appeal sought to reduce the fine per barrel from the $4,300 proposed by the US government to $3,000 per barrel. In December the US Supreme Court declined to review a settlement with BP resulting from the 2010 disaster. In August a federal district court in Louisiana ruled that BP was grossly negligent and bears a majority of the blame for the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster.

Form Jurist, July 3. Used with permission.

Note: Before this week's ruling, BP was already liable for $4.5 billion in penalties announced after a November 2012 settlement of a federal criminal case.

Will BP really pay?

According to the US Public Interest Research Group, at least $13.2 billion of the BP settlement could be written off as a normal cost of business expense, allowing the company to subtract the amount it pays in settlements each year from its annual taxable profits. "A judge had declared the oil spill was the result of gross negligence. It is outrageous for BP to treat any portion of these payments as an ordinary business expense. We call on the company to promise that it will not write these payments off as tax deductions," said PIRG's tax analyst Phineas Baxandall. Good luck with that, Phineas.

He added: "We also call on the Justice Department to make public the full language of the settlement on its website." Which they apparently have not done, contrary to usual practice.

Smell like a scam yet?

Fuck the dolphins

Bottlenose dolphins swimming in waters affected by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill are dying earlier and birthing fewer calves than dolphins living in other areas, a new study shows. Just 20 percent of pregnant dolphins in Barataria Baya part of the Gulf of Mexico that was most heavily tainted by oil from the spill—gave birth to surviving calves, much lower than the 83 percent success rate in other dolphin populations, the researchers found. "This dolphin population, as well as other dolphin and whale populations that were exposed to the DeepwaterHorizon oil, will take a long time to recover," saidstudy lead investigator Lori Schwacke, a wildlife epidemiologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. (LiveScience, Nov. 4)

BP supervisor found not guilty of clean water act violation

Robert Kaluza, a former rig supervisor for BP, was found not guilty in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana Feb. 25 of violating the Clean Water Act over the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Kaluza was initially charged with the pollution misdemeanor as well as involuntary manslaughter. The manslaughter charges were later dropped. Kaluza and another supervisor, Donald Vidrine, were accused of negligent conduct leading to the explosion of the Macondo well. (Jurist, Feb. 26)

New oil spill in Gulf of Mexico

A spill at a Shell facility leaked nearly 100,000 gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico on May 12, leaving a visible sheen along a large area some 100 miles off the Louisiana coast. The leak discharged from a Shell subsea flow line near the Brutus platform south of Timbalier Island has reportedly been contained. (Weather ChannelReuters)