Oceana Calls BP Settlement Proposal “A Disappointment” and “Woefully Inadequate”
Press Release Date: July 2, 2015
Location: Washington, D.C.
In response to the announcement of BP’s proposed settlement in the Gulf, Oceana’s vice president for the U.S. Jacqueline Savitz released the following statement:
“Today’s announcement of a BP settlement for its federal and state claims is a disappointment to those who believe that the company should pay the full cost of the damages it caused. $18.7 billion may sound like a lot of money, and it is, but it pales in comparison to what BP really owes.
BP should pay an amount sufficient to compensate local communities and fund restoration projects, based on the full amount of the Clean Water Act penalties to which it is subject, and the full amount of the damage assessment being conducted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
The Clean Water Act violations should have amounted to $13.7 billion alone since the court found in January that BP was ‘grossly negligent,’ and based on the sheer amount of oil spilled. Later this year, a judge was expected to rule on how much BP would have had to pay under this statute, which could have gone as high as $13.7 billion. However, if the court approves today’ proposal, BP will only be paying $5.5 billion of this amount, falling well short of what it should have been fined given the negligence finding.
Under the Oil Pollution Act, BP is also required to pay the amount needed to restore the natural resources it damaged. The exact amount is still being worked out by NOAA, but based on the amount paid for the much smaller Exxon Valdez oil spill, these damages could be much higher than the $7.1 billion they are proposing to pay in this settlement.
For these two payments alone, Clean Water Act violations and natural resource damages, BP would be getting away with less than half of what the law justifies.
Although the settlement would be a positive step towards restoring the Gulf, it would still be woefully inadequate when it comes to the long-term impacts to the affected communities, local economies and environment, which will take decades to fully recover. In fact, just two years ago, an article published in Financial Times found that the total costs could reach $90 billion in claims. The amount that BP has paid and will pay now represents less than half of this amount. The people of the Gulf deserve better. BP should be responsible for the full costs of the damages it has caused.
The court should not let BP off the hook without fully compensating the American people for what we have lost. A low-end settlement, at less than half of what is justifiable, would not only cheat the public, but it would send the wrong message to BP and the other companies that drill in our oceans, that they may not have to pay for the damages they cause in the future. This is important as these companies push to drill offshore in places like the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans. Such a dangerous precedent will inevitably endanger our coastal ecosystems and communities in the Gulf and beyond.”