RFK Jr: “I think BP are getting off lightly”


Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is a revered name in environmental circles, and for good reason. As the son of an iconic, martyred U.S. senator and presidential candidate, and the nephew of the late 35th president, RFK Jr. could have surely coasted through life on the Kennedy family name. But instead, he has lived as a tireless crusader for a better planet, including a cleaner Gulf of Mexico.

So when Robert Kennedy Jr. talks, people listen. And now he has a powerful rebuttal to the recent whining and belly-aching by BP that the billions of dollars of claims against the oil giant for the massive 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill are excessive.

Listen to his message to Britain’s Telegraph newspaper:

Robert F Kennedy Jr, nephew of assassinated US president John F Kennedy, is an environmental activist and lawyer representing plaintiffs suing BP over the 2010 oil spill. He dismissed claims BP was being unfairly targeted as a British company.

“They are being picked on as an oil company that wrecked our Gulf and lied about it,” he told The Daily Telegraph. “I don’t care if it’s a British company or [US rival] Exxon. I would rather sue Exxon than BP, because I think Exxon is a worse company. But Exxon didn’t do the Gulf spill.”

Kennedy went on to say:

Mr Kennedy alleged that there was evidence of ongoing contamination of wildlife such as sperm whales in the Gulf. “How are they going to pay for that? I think BP are getting off lightly.”…

…Mr Kennedy said that BP should face “a high enough level of punitive damages that it gives an incentive to their industry to spend as much money on protecting the safety of the public and the environment as they do on their tax lawyers, who are trying to reduce their tax liabilities.”

I’m glad to see Kennedy emphasizing many of the points that have been made here in recent months. The problem is not that BP is paying too much in damages, but that it may end up paying far too little — when the company’s multi-billion-dollar profits and the massive amounts of damage are properly accounted for. BP’s slick advertising can’t gloss over the fact that marine life is still dying at alarming rates:

Here’s what another environmental activist said this weekend:

 “Three years after the initial explosion, the impacts of the disaster continue to unfold,” says Doug Inkley, senior scientist at the National Wildlife Federation. A recent report by the group found that the three-year-old spill is still having a serious negative effect on wildlife populations in the Gulf. For one, dolphin deaths in the region have remained above average every single month since the disaster. In the first two months of 2013, infant dolphins were found dead at six times pre-spill average rates.

You can argue the grammar, but there’s no doubt that BP has so far gotten off lightly.

To read Robert Kennedy Jr.’s interview in the Telegraph, go to: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/energy/oilandgas/10094648/BP-wrecked-our-Gulf-says-Robert-Kennedy-Jr.html

To check out what other environmentalists are saying about the ongoing crisis in the Gulf, please read: http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20130601/LIFE05/130609981/environmental-groups-feel-impact-of-bp-oil-spill-still-unfolding

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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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