Environmental Must-Reads – November 16, 2012


BP oil spill: BP agrees to pay $4.5B; 3 employees charged

A day of reckoning arrived for BP on Thursday as the oil giant agreed to plead guilty to a raft of criminal charges and pay a record $4.5 billion in a settlement with the government over the deadly 2010 disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. Three BP employees were also charged, two of them with manslaughter.

‘BP lied to me’ and the nation about the oil spill, lawmaker says

WASHINGTON — As a dramatic, 24-7 webcast showed oil gushing from BP’s blown-out well during the spring and summer of 2010, Rep. Edward J. Markey suspected the oil giant was underestimating the amount of the spill.

On Thursday, after BP agreed to pay a record $4.5 billion in penalties and fees and plead guilty to criminal misconduct, including lying to Congress to make the spill “appear less catastrophic than it was,’’ the Massachusetts Democrat had this to say:

“BP lied to me. And they lied to all Americans.’’

BP Oil Spill Settlement Announced, Robert Kaluza And Donald Vidrine Charged With Manslaughter

BP, the British oil giant, pleaded guilty on Thursday to 14 felony counts related to the 2010 explosion and subsequent oil spill at the site of its Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico. The plea agreement with federal prosecutors includes 11 charges of manslaughter for the deaths of workers on the Deepwater Horizon rig, and one felony count for obstruction of justice for false statements made to Congress about the amount of oil leaking from the out-of-control well.

A big fine — covered by a quarter’s profit. BP gets step closer to moving beyond Gulf spill

BP’s $4.5 billion settlement of federal criminal charges announced Thursday is a record amount, and a significant sum of money.

Or, looked at another way, it’s less than the $5.5 billion in profit the British oil giant made between June and September of this year.

Breaking down the BP settlement: Who gets the money?

At $4.5 billion, the agreement announced Thursday to settle federal criminal charges against BP for the 2010 oil spill ranks as one of the biggest penalties in U.S. history.

The majority of that money goes to a group of federal agencies that in turn could send it back to the Gulf Coast, with Louisiana positioned to be the biggest beneficiary. When, where and how the money gets distributed remains to be seen, but experts say it’s just an initial payment on the total amount owed by BP for its role in the catastrophe.

Defense lawyers say BP rig workers are scapegoats

While BP has resolved a sweeping criminal probe of its role in the massive 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, two company employees charged in the deaths of 11 rig workers claim the Justice Department is trying to make them scapegoats for the disaster.

BP May Pay Billions More in Oil Spill Claims After Deal

BP Plc (BP/), which has now agreed to pay more than $12 billion in government and private party settlements over the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, still faces claims seeking billions of dollars more for the catastrophe.

BP oil spill deal: Gov. Rick Scott office calls $4.5 billion deal ‘unacceptable’

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s office is sharply criticizing a settlement reached between the federal government and oil giant BP.

The company agreed Thursday to plead guilty to criminal charges and pay $4.5 billion because of the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

BP fined, charged in oil spill that showed ‘profit over prudence’

Oil giant BP and three of its employees were indicted on criminal charges including manslaughter and obstruction of Congress on top of a record $4-billion fine that the company will pay the government for its role in the oil spill disaster that scarred the Gulf of Mexico, officials announced Thursday.

BP Oil-Spill Fine So Horrible, BP’s Stock Price Only Rises 1 Percent

Warning: You may hear a faint, unidentified cracking sound later today. Don’t be alarmed: It will simply be the U.S. Justice Department’s mighty slap across BP’s wrist.

The government later on Thursday will announce a record criminal penalty against BP for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010. The criminal fines and penalties will be $4 billion, to be paid out over five years, and another $525 million in payments to the Securities and Exchange Commission to settle securities charges, BP says.

BP Seen Escaping U.S. Contracting Ban After Oil Spill Settlement

BP Plc (BP), which reached a settlement with the U.S. government over the biggest oil spill in the nation’s history, may escape a federal contracting ban.

BP Held Accountable For U.S. Deaths and Oil Spill While Chevron Remains Fugitive From Justice In Ecuador

The U.S. Department of Justice is holding BP, the UK-based oil company, accountable for the 11 deaths and environmental damage resulting from its 2010 accidental oil spill. But what about the U.S.-based oil company Chevron, which is refusing to pay a $19 billion judgment in Ecuador for intentional oil contamination in the rainforest, where at least 1,400 people have died of cancer?

Four More BP Employees Will Be Charged In Oil Spill

Two sources tell NPR that four more BP employees will be charged in relation to the BP oil spill, which dumped more than 200 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.

BP settles criminal charges for $4 billion in spill; supervisors indicted on manslaughter

BP has agreed to plead guilty to 14 criminal counts, including manslaughter, and will pay $4 billion over five years in a settlement with the Justice Department over the April 20, 2010, drilling disaster in the Gulf of Mexico that killed 11 people and unleashed the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history, officials announced Thursday.

Criminality in the Gulf Spill

Two and a half years after the massive gulf oil spill, BP has agreed to plead guilty to 14 criminal charges brought by the Justice Department and cough up $4.5 billion in fines and other payments. This is not the first financial penalty the British oil giant has paid for its careless and destructive behavior, nor should it be the last. Still to come are multibillion-dollar settlements under various environmental laws. The Justice Department must be no less diligent in pressing these claims and should not settle for anything less than what the gulf coast, its battered environment and its residents need to address the long-term consequences of this disaster.

The 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico

On April 20, 2010, the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded and burned off the Louisiana coast in the Gulf of Mexico, killing 11 workers and sparking an environmental crisis. After three months and many failed efforts to stop the flow of oil from the seabed, the 18,000-foot-deep well was finally capped on July 15. By then, 205 million gallons of crude had flowed into the gulf. On the first anniversary of one of the world’s largest offshore oil spills, we take a look back at the accident and its catastrophic consequences.


AP PHOTOS: Impacts of the Gulf oil spill

BP has agreed to pay a $4.5 billion settlement with the U.S. government over the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. BP’s Deepwater Horizon rig, 50 miles off the Louisiana coast, sank in an explosion on April 20, 2010, spewing crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico, killing wildlife and shutting vast areas of the Gulf to commercial fishing for months.

LA officials agree with fine

New Orleans — Metro area government officials and members of the area’s congressional delegation reacted to BP’s record criminal fine for the Macondo oil well blowout as just punishment, but they are clearly looking ahead to upcoming civil penalties to address the damage done by the 2010 disaster.

Timeline of Gulf oil spill and ensuing legal cases

The 11 workers who died on the Deepwater Horizon

Here is a list of the 11 workers who died after a blast on the BP-leased drilling rig Deepwater Horizon on April 20, 2010 about 50 miles southeast of the Louisiana coast in the Gulf of Mexico. The rig was owned by the Swiss firm Transocean Ltd. It was drilling the Macondo well, in which BP was the majority owner. On the morning of April 12 — after burning for about a day and a half — the Deepwater Horizon sank. It rests on the bottom about a mile below the Gulf surface

BP executive charged with lying to authorities

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A BP executive has been indicted on charges that he lied to authorities about his work estimating the rate oil was flowing during the 2010 Gulf oil spill disaster.

Rep. Jo Bonner: BP settlement a “down payment” on debt to Gulf Coast

U.S. Rep. Jo Bonner, R-Mobile, said that today’s announced criminal settlement between BP and the Justice Department represents “but a down payment” on the oil company’s obligation to Gulf Coast.

BP’s $4.5 billion settlement of criminal charges includes at least $1.2 billion for Louisiana coastal restoration

BP entered into a settlement with the U.S. Justice Department on Thursday of all criminal claims involving the Deepwater Horizon oil spill for $4 billion, to be paid in installments over five years, and a settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission that will include the payment of $525 million over three years. The company also pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in New Orleans to 11 felony counts of misconduct or neglect of ships’ officers relating to the loss of 11 lives in the explosion in April 2010.

BP’s profits-first culture prompts 11 felony guilty pleas, $4.5 billion in fines

Citing gross negligence and what it called the company’s profits-first culture, the federal government on Thursday announced it had entered into a settlement with BP of all criminal claims stemming from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, fining the company a record $4.5 billion and securing 11 felony pleas from the company for the 11 people killed in the April 2010 blast.

Families of Deepwater Horizon victims torn about BP plea deal

The bumper sticker on Arleen Weise’s Mini Cooper reads “DWH 11,” but people kept asking what it meant. So Weise got a blue magnetic sticker with 11 stars and the words spelled out – Deepwater Horizon – to drive the message home.

An emotional day for victims’ survivors

Relatives of the 11 men killed in the Deepwater Horizon explosion expressed a variety of emotions to news that BP will plead guilty to manslaughter charges and pay a $4 billion penalty.

ExxonMobil to investigate cause of Ill. oil mist

CHICAGO — ExxonMobil Oil Corp. has agreed to investigate the cause of an oil-mist release at a northern Illinois refinery last month and develop a plan to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

Oil spill settlement deal rapped as chump change for BP

The record-setting $4.5 billion fine that BP has agreed to pay to settle criminal charges stemming from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster is little more than a “rounding error” for the British oil giant that will do little to deter misdeeds offshore, environmentalists accused Thursday.

BP hopes $4.5bn fine will draw line under Deepwater Horizon disaster

Oil giant pleads guilty to 11 counts of manslaughter but says it will ‘vigorously fight’ outstanding claims

Fracking review could come sooner than expected

Rensselaer, NY, Nov 16, 2012 — One day after saying they could not “speculate” on when a key health review on hydrofracking in New York would commence, the New York State Department of Health has now announced three university experts have been chosen and will review the data.

NY agency names panel to review fracking study

ALBANY, N.Y. — New York’s health department has named experts from George Washington University, the University of California Los Angeles and the Colorado School of Public Health to review the state’s environmental study on shale gas development using hydraulic fracturing, a state official said Thursday.

French Senate Orders Study on Alternatives to Shale Fracking

The French Senate requested a report on alternatives to hydraulic fracturing, an oil and natural gas drilling technique known as fracking that’s banned in France.

Fracking and Radium, the Silvery-White Monster

Fracking for gas not only uses toxic chemicals that can contaminate drinking water and groundwater — it also releases substantial quantities of radioactive poison from the ground that will remain hot and deadly for thousands of years.

S. Thomas Bond: Fracking pollution is costly

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — “Flowback” is the liquid that returns to the surface when a shale well is fractured. Figures for the amount of water required to fracture a shale well usually range from 3 million gallons to 5 million. Likewise, figures for the amount returning to the surface vary, but 20 percent seems reasonable.

Pa. Farmer’s Anti-Fracking Conservation Easement Serves as Model for Other Landowners

When Pennsylvania organic farmer Dr. J. Stephen Cleghorn publicly announced plans to create a first-in-the-nation conservation easement on his land, with the aim of preventing hydraulic fracturing, he was hoping his act would encourage others to do the same. It’s been only a few days since Cleghorn made the announcement, and already other landowners have contacted him to learn more about his novel approach to keeping natural gas drillers at bay.

Pipeline carrying Marcellus Shale gas would run through Gloucester County

The impact of the Marcellus Shale natural gas boom is about to be felt in a corner of South Jersey.

The Challenges in Public Policing of Gas Drilling

I’m publishing a pair of “Your Dot” reactions to my post on citizens’ efforts to build mapped data bases as a tool for tracking the gas drilling surge in the United States.

The first, below, describes potential pitfalls in such “do it yourself” efforts. Tomorrow, you’ll hear from Frank O’Donnell, a seasoned clean-air campaigner in Washington, about the substantial potential benefits of public methane monitoring.

Loophole Lets Toxic Oil Water Flow Over Indian Land

The air reeks so strongly of rotten eggs that tribal leader Wes Martel hesitates to get out of the car at an oil field on the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming. He already has a headache from the fumes he smelled at another oil field.

Martel is giving me a tour of one of a dozen oil and gas fields on the reservation. These operations have the federal government’s permission to dump wastewater on the land — so much that it creates streams that flow into natural creeks and rivers. And this water contains toxic chemicals, including known carcinogens and radioactive material, according to documents obtained by NPR through Freedom of Information Act requests.

Carbondale Votes Unanimously to Support Statewide Fracking Moratorium

In a unanimous decision, the Carbondale City Council passed a resolution on Nov. 13 calling on the Illinois General Assembly to “enact a moratorium on high volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing until such time as the health and environmental concerns of the people of Illinois are addressed.” In this decision, Carbondale joins the Illinois towns of Carlyle, Anna and Alto Pass, and Union and Jackson Counties in taking action supporting a moratorium, becoming the largest city yet to do so.

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Stuart H. Smith is an attorney based in New Orleans fighting major oil companies and other polluters.
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