Yet again, BP is trying to duck responsibility for trashing the Gulf


BP is hoping that Americans will take their eyes off the prize — which is exactly why the public needs to stay vigilant and fight off the latest, significant efforts by the British oil giant to shirk its culpability for trashing one of America’s most treasured resources, the Gulf of Mexico. In the immediate embarrassment and outrage over 2010’s Deepwater Horizon disaster, BP at least wore a public mask of conciliation — signing off on multi-billion-dollar settlements and professing its intention to collaborate on restoring the Gulf.

But now the bill is coming due, and BP is once again looking to pass the check around the table…to you.

BP is going back to court this month to make yet another ridiculous argument — that the official, scientifically-derived estimates that 5 million barrels of oil leaked from the damaged Deepwater Horizon rig and that more than 80 percent of that oil polluted the Gulf are wrong, and that the real figure is half that much. What’s at stake? Billions of dollars, under the formula under the Clean Water Act used to determine damages in an environmental case such as this:

Justice Department lawyers say BP’s estimates are based on a flawed theory that the cement in the wellbore and the condition of the blowout preventer — the key safety device that malfunctioned — were “impediments to flow that eroded very slowly.”

“How do the Defendants justify such low numbers? By abandoning the data from the (spill) response actions and contradicting evidence” from the trial’s first phase, they wrote.

A key expert for BP will be Martin Blunt, a professor of petroleum engineering at Imperial College in London. Blunt has claimed the government overestimated the size of the spill by 26 to 42 percent.

“In assessing the data, Dr. Blunt uses a conservative lens,” BP lawyers wrote. “Dr. Blunt accounts for fundamental geological facts and principles of physics acknowledged by United States experts but omitted in their flow calculations.”

Look, it’s hardly surprising that a British oil company has signed up a British scientist to do its bidding. But the roughly-5-million-barrel figure has been widely accepted both by government experts and by independent researchers for the last three years.

What’s more, it doesn’t make intuitive sense to downplay the BP spill. The broader reality is quite simply this: Whatever the exact scientific number, BP’s oil is all over the place, three years after the disaster. Just in the last few months — long after the three-year anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon explosion — we’ve reported on a giant tar mat on a Louisiana island, confirmed BP tar balls near Pensacola, even submerged BP oil found off the southern Florida Gulf coastline, hundreds of miles from the rig.

And if there’s another major tropical storm this fall, you can rest assured that more oil will wash ashore up and down the region. That alone is reason why it’s ludicrous now for BP to downplay the spill damages. It’s critical that the court reject this bogus assertion — and its only real purpose, a brazen effort to save a polluter billions of dollars.

To read more about the legal arguments over the size of the BP oil spill, go to:

Read my June 26 blog post about the giant tar mat at Isle Grand Terre:

Here’s my July 26 post about BP pollution at a Pensacola beach:

© Smith Stag, LLC 2013 – All Rights Reserved


  • Dear Sirs,
    I had done all the math while watching the underwater roving videos of the flowing oil at the time, the bigest mistake BP made was to allow free access to live feeds (ha ha ha), I say it’s a bit more than 5 million barrels because BP used the toxic dispersant corexit to hide much of the oil as it spilled from the end of the broken pipe, they likely spilled 8 or ten million barrels of oil. BP is guilty along with Hallibuton, and fully deserve the corporate death penalty for murder, and the deaths are ongoing if something isn’t done to do a real cleanup.

  • Is profit really all that matters? I am so disgusted with big business! All I can say is KARMA will win in the end.

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

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