Some questions came up this week from some of y’all about a legal thing in the news regarding BP. Monday, a judge accepted the plea bargin from BP on all federal criminal charges with respect to the Deepwater Horizon (aka Macando, aka Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill).
This is actually related to a blog post I made in November:
It’s not really my place to use this blog to cover the details of the suit or give opinions about it, but I thought I could clarify the misconceptions out there about these litigations. The thing is … you have to think like a lawyer:
The sentence I wrote up there has the key “limiting factors” to yesterday’s news:
1) “Accepted the Plea Bargin” — This means this is the same settlement as was announced in November. It isn’t new. It was in question, because of some pushback on the size of the fines but that is part of what was lost in the rest of the information. What is the rest of the information you ask?
2) “Criminal Charges” — This plea bargin was only for the criminal charges. There is another lawsuit that is going to reach a head in the next 30 days for a civil suit from US Government Evironmental Protection Agency. That is a violation of the Clean Water Act (you spill oil into the Ocean, the water isn’t clean). That fine is expected to be 2 to 10 times larger than the criminal fine. Or more specifically – 10 to 30 billion US$. Of course, all that money goes to the government, not like:
3) “Federal Criminal Charges” — All that money goes to the government, not like the approxiately 200 lawsuits filed by individuals and other companies effected by the oil spill. The totals for that won’t reach the fines for the criminal charges, but the process is slower as most need to be handled individually.
But what shouldn’t be forgotten either is the last limiting factor:
4) ” plea bargin from BP” — Four former BP employees are on trail for criminal charges of their own. The charges against them are seperate than those applied to the corporation, and those four were only arrested in November – so they have a long way to go.
The point of this whole post is in part to let you know that this process isn’t over with the announcement this week. Moreso, suggestions that BP is getting off easy is just too early to call.
But what can be said, and what we tried to show, is that BP wants to make this right. Sure the oil industry makes alot of money, sure there is a continued need for more and more oil & gas, sure we have alot to be held accountable for. But part of the reason I work for BP today is because the attitude of those I met with were about doing the right thing and keeping what happened in the Gulf from every happening again on any level. We can’t change the past, we can only fix it, pay for our sins, and do what we can to make things better.