US settles criminal charges against BP for Gulf spill — is it enough?

First the news, then the views.

■ The U.S. government recently settled criminal charges against BP for the Gulf of Mexico disaster of 2010 that cost lives and damaged Gulf property, economic interests, and the ocean itself.  John posted dramatic exclusive photos of the rig on fire and sinking — you can see some of them below.

BP Deepwater Horizon oil rig fire

BP Deepwater Horizon oil rig fire, photo from DOE. More dramatic photos here.

Ring of Fire News has the report (my emphasis and paragraphing):

BP Settles To Resolve Criminal Charges

BP and the United States have announced an agreement to resolve all federal criminal charges against BP. In the agreement, BP agreed to pay a record fine of $4 billion and an additional $525 million to resolve federal securities violations.

As part of the agreement, BP agreed to plead guilty to 14 criminal charges including eleven charges of manslaughter for each of the eleven men killed in the casualty, one charge pertaining to violations of the Clean Water Act, one charge pertaining to violations of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and one charge of Obstruction of Congress.

The Obstruction of Congress charge is in regards to BP’s admission that it misrepresented the amount of oil flowing from the Macondo well to members of Congress.  The obstruction charge has also resulted in the indictment of the BP executive who made the false statements to Congress. In addition, at least two other BP employees working on the rig have been indicted for their acts related to the interpretation of the negative pressure test and the tragic eleven deaths…

Click to read the rest, it’s a good report.

BP Deepwater Horizon oil rig fire

BP Deepwater Horizon oil rig fire. More dramatic photos here.

■ But was the settlement enough? Many say no. Here’s Public Citizen making that case:

We’re stunned. This settlement is pathetic. The $4 billion penalty is equivalent to just a fifth of the company’s 2011 profits.

The point of the criminal justice system is twofold: to punish and to deter. This does neither. It is a weak-tea punishment that provides zero deterrence to BP or other companies. Consider that after the 2005 Texas refinery explosion that killed 15 people, BP pleaded guilty to a criminal charge and paid a fine. Now, after a 2010 event that killed 11 people, BP is again pleading guilty and paying a fine. Zero deterrence.

Although the government is right to pursue manslaughter charges against two individuals BP employees, the settlement is inadequate to address BP’s repeated criminal conduct.

The government must impose more meaningful sanctions. Nothing in this settlement stops BP from continuing to get federal contracts and leases. BP will earn more in annual federal contracts than it will pay in penalties as a result of this. That’s appalling.

The two points made strongly here are key — the settlement must deter future wrong-doing; and BP must lose its federal contracts. As the writer said, the current settlement does neither.

BP is a climate criminal. Check the list — they’re way up there, number three on the criminals list and the fourth largest corporation in the world. They won’t stop killing us (literally) until we stop them first.

Speaking of killing, what’s the death penalty for corporations who kill? Me, I’d take away their charter. Poof; gone. Wanna bet that would get the attention of the rest?


To follow or send links: @Gaius_Publius

Gaius Publius is a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States.

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