As we’ve mentioned in previous posts, the BP oil spill report is clearly designed to shift responsibility to other companies, or at least create a foundation for shifting liability later on. Even when BP “blames itself” the report is careful to imply that “workers” made poor decisions, steering clear of company policy or greed. Of course, going for the cheaper well design is discounted as a cause.
New York Times reporter Ian Urbina nails the main point when he writes that: “Central to BP’s legal strategy will be the need to rebut claims that the company acted with gross negligence. Toward that end, the report plays down BP’s well design as a factor in the explosion.”
And the term “gross negligence” is significant. That’s the determination that boosts BP’s fines, erases any hint of liability limits and creates tremendous leverage. You may recall that, early in the spill, it was widely reported that BP had acknowledged gross negligence – which was, of course, denied or recanted, depending on what you read.
Jed Lewison at the DailyKos has been covering the “gross negligence” denial story, reporting July 30 that: “In a letter sent to BP earlier this month, Texas Governor Rick Perry and Attorney General Greg Abbott say that BP General Counsel Jack Lynch told them that the reason BP wasn’t limiting claims to the statutory cap of $75 million was that gross negligence led to the disastrous explosion of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig.” Then Lewison notes that the company is denying any such thing – sure, the governor and AG are just going to make that up.
With tens of billions of dollars on the line, BP is liable to say anything.
Mr. Urbina’s fine report is here: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/09/us/09spill.html?_r=1&hp
Catch up on the DailyKos story here: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2010/7/30/889006/-BP-denies-admitting-gross-negligence
© Smith Stag, LLC 2010 – All Rights Reserved