This guest post, written by Dan Favre, Communications Director for Gulf Restoration Network, originally appeared on GRN’s blog here.
[Editorial note: Sadly, just hours after this landmark settlement, another Gulf oil platform explosion has injured and potentially killed crew members, reaffirming the fact that offshore drilling is a high risk energy source and brings questions of other rigs’ safety to the surface.]
The fight to hold BP fully accountable is far from over.
Big news today: BP has agreed to plead guilty to a number of criminal charges from their disaster in the Gulf and pay an unprecedented $4.5 billion dollars in criminal fines and other payments. The largest oil disaster in our nation’s history warrants record-high criminal penalties, but the fight to hold BP fully accountable is far from over.
Please take a moment to thank President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder for their work leading to today’s announcement, and ask them to remain firm in pursuing further civil fines and penalties that BP still legally owes.
This plea deal does not cover most environmental damages. BP still owes civil fines under the Clean Water Act, which the RESTORE Act directs to Gulf restoration. Through the Natural Resources Damage Assessment process, they must pay to repair the damage done by their oil, and the full ecosystem impacts will still take years to determine.
While this criminal plea is positive news in the fight to hold BP accountable, the Department of Justice and BP should not prematurely settle claims for too little under the Clean Water Act or the Natural Resources Damage Assessment.
In our almost 20 years of working in the Gulf, we’ve never seen this level of accountability for an oil and gas company. We’re thankful that the terms of today’s settlement direct most of the fines to Gulf ecosystem recovery and scientific efforts. However, there’s still a long road to restoration for the Gulf, and it’s clear BP is gearing up for a big fight over the potentially much larger amounts of money that will fund environmental restoration.
Send a letter to the President and Department of Justice today to say thanks for their work so far holding BP accountable, and ask them to keep it up!