Greenpeace Calls BP Gulf Coast Settlement Insufficient

Katherine Welles /

November 15, 2012; Source: Businessweek

In the largest criminal fine in U.S. history, BP will pay $4.5 billion over the course of five years due its 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill. At a press conference, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said, “I hope this sends a clear message to those who would engage in this wanton misconduct that there will be a penalty paid.” Three BP officials also face charges, including a manslaughter charge for two of them due to the 11 people who were killed by the 2010 explosion. The settlement includes $2.4 billion for the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, $350 million for the National Academy of Sciences and approximately $500 million for the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.), who serves on the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee, said that the “fines and penalties that the Justice Department has demanded BP pay are appropriate for such a massive disaster…People died, BP lied to Congress, and millions of barrels of oil poured into the Gulf. This steep cost to BP will provide the Gulf coast some of the funds needed to restore the region, and will hopefully deliver some comfort and closure to the families and businesses affected by the spill.”

Greenpeace isn’t quite so thrilled with the outcome. The well known nonprofit environmental organization says, “This fine amounts to a rounding error for a corporation the size of BP.” BP recently announced third quarter profits of $5.43 billion, a jump of 7.7 percent compared to the same quarter last year, so the $4 billion in fines amounts to less than BP’s profit for one quarter of this year.

However, the government settlement with BP does not prevent additional civil claims, be they federal Clean Water Act claims, state or federal natural resources claims or private civil claims, so BP may not be done defending itself on the spill in court for some time yet. BP says it is “prepared to vigorously defend itself against remaining civil claims.” Additionally, a New Orleans federal judge is considering a distinct $7.8 billion settlement with BP and more than 100,000 people and businesses that say the spill harmed them. Will environmental and Gulf Coast nonprofits continue to push for more from BP in response to the largest ocean oil spill in the history of the oil industry, or will they consider the case closed in the wake of the newly announced settlement? –Mike Keefe-Feldman

  • Observer

    Interesting, but since when is Greenpeace a court? They have no standing, other than as a commentator, exactly the same as me. Or you. And when did the fact that the $4 billion represents less than one quarter’s profit for BP become relevant? It’s $4 billion, and there’s more to come. BP has stated that they will “vigorously defend … against remaining civil claims”, which is exactly what any individual or corporation would do. The only thing “newsworthy” about all this is that the fine was the largest in US history, that the offender has agreed to pay it, and that it ain’t over.

    Greenpeace and I can say whatever we want, but it’s irrelevant. Personally I wish all those suing for real, honest damages Godspeed and all success, and all that those suing for frivolous reasons or to grab a few bucks (of which there are many) be dealt with harshly by the courts for wasting their time and resources. Of course that won’t happen in the most litigious society on Earth, because it’s not politically correct and the layers won’t allow it (it might reduce their collective income), but a guy can dream. BP needs to clean it up, fix the problems and compensate those who were injured financially or in any other way. To the rest of them, don’t let the door hit you in the butt on your way out. Then again,….