BP, the British company ultimately responsible for the 2010 oil spill that devastated America’s Gulf Coast, is tired of paying its fines. The company has been fined $4 billion and counting, and set aside $20 billion in a fund for those whose lives and businesses were affected by the spill. BP agreed to the deal without consulting its lawyers, and now it wants to take it back.
“The UK oil company has for months been seeking ways to restrain settlement claims, arguing its financial recovery is in peril and that it may become a takeover target, because of fictitious and inflated claims,” reports Environmental Leader.
Financial recovery in peril?! What about the people, plants, animals — an entire ocean ecosystem that might never recover? I’m pretty certain that ensuring the “financial recovery” of a company that raked in $11.6 billion of profit last year was never part of the bargain.
According to a report by Bloomberg, the company feels that it’s being asked to pay fraudulent claims — “false positives” filed by opportunists who were never really affected by 205.8 million barrels of oil dumped into the Gulf and washed up on beaches during the months it took for BP to figure out how to stop the spill.
No, you shouldn’t lie or file bogus insurance claims, even against a monster like BP. But just for the record, we still have almost NO IDEA how the spill actually affected the water, soil, and air. We’re STILL discovering the extent to which the crude penetrated the ecosystem. People are still reporting spill-related illnesses. And that’s only oil. If you include the potentially life-threatening effects of the dispersants that BP rained down from the sky (despite an EPA order to cease), it’s impossible to say with any type of certainty who has and has not been affected.
Not surprisingly, BP has decided that it’s done with cleaning up its mess as well. According to a recent CNN report, the company and the Coast Guard are withdrawing clean-up crews from the coastlines of Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. They say, the areas have been returned to ”as close to pre-spill conditions as possible.”
And sorry BP, but you signed the deal. You don’t get to change the terms once it becomes painfully obvious how much you have to atone for.
For once, it’s likely that the courts will agree. “A deal is a deal,” Anthony Sabino, a law professor at St. John’s University in New York, told Bloomberg. “It’s not the job of federal judges to save you from yourself.”
“They knew about these so-called false positives,” Sabino added. “They agreed that they wouldn’t have absolute discretion or the last word on final payments.”
The U.S. Court of Appeals in New Orleans is scheduled to hear BP’s appeal on July 8.
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