“No one can bring those fathers, husbands and sons back, but I am here to express our apologies…We — and by that I mean the men and the women of the management of BP, its Board of Directors, and its many employees — are deeply sorry for the tragic loss of the 11 men who died and the others who were injured that day…our guilty plea makes clear, BP understands and acknowledges its role in that tragedy, and we apologize — BP apologizes — to all those injured and especially to the families of the lost loved ones. BP is also sorry for the harm to the environment that resulted from the spill, and we apologize to the individuals and communities who were injured.”
– Albert Keller, VP of BP America
These were the words, read in the court of US District Judge Sarah Vance, just before she accepted the agreement negotiated between the Feds and British Petroleum requiring the company to pay $4 billion dollars in fines to settle criminal charges from the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon.
$4 billion dollars is a lot of money…but is it enough?
Well, I suppose that would depend on who you are and what you know.
And what does BP know?
They know they will be paying $1 billion dollars a year for four years to settle this fine, just as they know they made $25 billion in profit last year. They know they’ve long since resumed paying dividends to stockholders. They know they continue to drill for oil in United States waters. They know their continued advertisements celebrating their version of renewed health in the Gulf reach far more people than the scientific studies indicating otherwise. They know how much money they will have to pay out, and how to plan for it, even with the coming clean water act fines and they know that when all is said and done, they’re going to be okay. They will be making money to replace the money they’ve had to pay, and then the following year, they will make more, then more…and on it goes, with none of the CEO’s seeing any jail time. Ultimately, BP knows they’ve weathered this storm.
Okay, and what do the people of the Gulf Coast not know?
The families of the dead do not know when their personal grieving will stop. They don’t know when life, if life can get back to normal. They don’t know if the marshes will completely recover. They don’t know how badly the environment’s been damaged, what the long term effects of all this will be. They don’t know what it means ultimately that the smallest organisms have been decimated by this spill, the organisms small fish feed on, which are in turn fed upon by birds and they don’t know where on this food chain the damage stops, or if it does. They don’t know what the long term health implications of oil and corexit exposure will mean to their families. They don’t know how many marriages have failed, how many businesses have been lost, how many people have died as a result of this spill. Ultimately, they don’t know if this storm will ever stop.
And finally, despite the statement by the VP of BP America, the people of the Gulf Coast don’t know how, or if this tragedy has personally affected the CEO’s and the board members of British Petroleum. They don’t know this because their apology has come in the form of television commercial, press releases and court statements. BP’s never had to look directly into the eyes of eleven families who lost their loved ones.
So, is $4 billion dollars enough?
I don’t know, what happened to British Petroleum stock when this deal was announced?
Have a nice day.