Posted by | August 3, 2010 11:38 | Filed under: Top Stories

by Bruce Friedrich

All the major papers include the news today that the final total from the BP oil spill is (to quote the Washington Post) “a whopping 4.9 million barrels, or 205.8 million gallons” of oil, according to a detailed report released last night. Curiously, much of the media (including the New York Times) did not translate 5 million barrels into gallons.

The widely reported (though contested) spillage from Exxon Valdez, almost always reported in gallons, was 11 million—or about one-twentieth the size of the BP disaster (a fact not reported in the Times, Post, NPR, or any of the other coverage I’ve seen).

According to the Post, BP is looking at a fine of $4.5 billion if they acted without “gross negligence,” and $17.6 billion if they did. The Times notes that the company will have to claim that it gets credit for the oil it’s recovered (as though it didn’t actually spill… huh?), and that if it’s unsuccessful, the figures will total $5.4 billion and $21 billion.

Considering BP’s history of cutting corners, it’s hard to imagine that even their high-powered lawyers will be able to convince anyone that gross negligence was not involved.

Sadly, the gross negligence continues, with powerful evidence that BP’s PR strategy of dumping 2 million gallons of toxic chemicals into the Gulf so that we don’t see the oil is doing much more harm than good. As environmental reporter RP Siegel notes on the HuffingtonPost yesterday regarding the previous record-holder for oil spills (Amoco-Cadiz, off the coast of France):

Five years after the spill, the coastline had returned to normal in areas that had been left untreated. But 32 years later, the areas that had been treated with dispersants, at great expense, have yet to recover.

Don’t worry, though: BP will be just fine. It expects to take a tax write-off of about 10 billion dollars on its clean-up costs to date, and should be making $20 billion annually in profits again in no time.

Put another way: Even as many businesses fail and the economy continues to falter, the worst possible legal penalty for BP, for perpetrating the most God-awful environmental catastrophe in U.S. history, amounts to the loss of about one year’s profit.

Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2010 Liberaland
By: BruceGFriedrich

Vice President, Policy, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals