According to various news reports, BP has reached a deal with the Department of Justice and agreed to pay a record U.S. criminal penalty totaling $4.5 billion in addition to pleading guilty to gross misconduct in the 2010 Deepwater Horizon gulf oil disaster.
The AP reports BP will also plead guilty to obstruction “for lying to Congress about how much oil was pouring out of the ruptured well.” The agreement was reportedly made in exchange for a waiver of future prosecution on the charges, and sources say it will not cover outstanding federal civil claims.
It remains to be seen whether BP will plead guilty to felony counts, or if the Department of Justice will grant a deferred prosecution agreement. Deferred prosecution would fail to address the company’s willful negligence in the deaths of 11 people, permanent damage to the gulf ecosystem and the ongoing impact on the residents of gulf states.
Greenpeace senior investigator Mark Floegel issued the following statement in response to the reports:
“Today's announcement of a proposed settlement between BP and the U.S. government fails every aspect of the commonly accepted notion of penalty.
“This proposed settlement would not hold the guilty accountable for their actions. This fine amounts to a rounding error for a corporation the size of BP. It is far less than Shell Oil has already spent in the Arctic, without yet commencing serious operations.
“BP management is clearly hanging low-echelon technical and engineering staff out to dry while making no significant changes to their disastrous business model.
“This proposed settlement would not protect the innocent. Nothing in this proposed settlement gives any oil company incentive to be more careful in future operations. Cutting corners and skimping on safety will still be the rule of the day.
“This proposed settlement would not deter future crime. As the other oil giants have resources similar to BP's, this proposed settlement would give a green light for more reckless behavior in environments across the globe. Shell will now be eager to return to the Arctic Ocean in 2013, knowing that its inevitable oil spills will be met with similar slaps on the wrist.
“Indeed, if one looks at the fate of BP's stock price—the only metric of value in the corporate world—it's clear that far from a penalty, this proposed settlement would be a reward to BP.”
“The price of one sperm whale in the gulf is immeasurable,” John Hocevar, director of Greenpeace U.S. oceans campaign said, “and we still don’t know the full ecological story of the BP Deepwater Horizon Disaster. This settlement would buy off further government silence about the full impacts. The Gulf deserves a full accounting for the damage BP has done, and this proposed settlement is simply BP trying to buy its way out of responsibility.”
New Zealand could be the first country in the world to require its major financial institutions to report on the risks posed by the climate crisis.
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By Brett Wilkins
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the meatpacking industry worked together to downplay and disregard risks to worker health during the Covid-19 pandemic, as shown in documents published Monday by Public Citizen and American Oversight.
<div id="13077" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="11b9fe5ff48ebc437353df6df9c2c892"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1305915938148147205" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Just a week before the Trump administration issued an executive order aimed at keeping meat packing plants open, th… https://t.co/DkbXgPm4YR</div> — ProPublica (@ProPublica)<a href="https://twitter.com/propublica/statuses/1305915938148147205">1600189597.0</a></blockquote></div>
<div id="36e4c" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="e7c8048c2755109629a3b3072fcb3261"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1304424041814593539" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Meatpacking union @UFCW, which reps workers at this plant (four of whom died), slams OSHA for the small $13k fine a… https://t.co/tnhfKd89ab</div> — Dave Jamieson (@Dave Jamieson)<a href="https://twitter.com/jamieson/statuses/1304424041814593539">1599833901.0</a></blockquote></div><p>The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) International Union, which represents Smithfield Foods workers, <a href="https://www.argusleader.com/story/news/crime/2020/09/10/osha-fines-smithfield-foods-sioux-falls-south-dakota/5768786002/?eType=EmailBlastContent&eId=f7bf3f03-ce98-4df4-9c45-f44d9a6a5890" target="_blank">slammed</a> the fine as "insulting and a slap on the wrist."</p><p>"How much is the health, safety, and life of an essential worker worth? Based on the actions of the Trump administration, clearly not much," said UFCW president Marc Perrone.</p><p>"This so-called 'fine' is a slap on the wrist for Smithfield, and a slap in the face of the thousands of American meatpacking workers who have been putting their lives on the line to help feed America since the beginning of this pandemic," Perrone added. </p><p>Other critics, including vegans, vegetarians, and animal rights and environmental advocates argued that the accelerated spread of Covid-19 from meatpacking facilities is but the latest compelling argument in favor of reducing—or eliminating—meat consumption.</p><p>"We know that Covid-19 originated in a meat market and that previous influenza viruses originated in pigs and chickens," People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) <a href="https://www.peta.org/blog/meat-shortage-slaugherhouses-go-vegan/" target="_blank">said</a> in April amid news that a Foster Farms slaughterhouse in Livingston, California was <a href="https://www.peta.org/blog/coronavirus-covid-19-slaughterhouse-meat-concerns/?utm_source=PETA::Twitter&utm_medium=Social&utm_campaign=0420::veg::PETA::Twitter::Workers%20Blame%20Major%20Pig%20Slaughterhouse%20600%20Infected%20COVID-19::::tweet" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">ordered closed</a> by local health authorities due to a Covid-19 outbreak that killed eight employees.</p>
<div id="28490" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="48ddd3480a2beb42597d9516ef652f0f"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1252416495990140929" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">THIS IS OUTRAGEOUS! @SmithfieldFoods allegedly took NO PRECAUTIONS to protect the safety of its workers, leaving o… https://t.co/viAJ026pLy</div> — PETA (@PETA)<a href="https://twitter.com/peta/statuses/1252416495990140929">1587434336.0</a></blockquote></div><p>"It's not a matter of <em>whether</em> using and killing animals for food will give rise to another disease outbreak—it's a matter of <em>when</em>," said PETA. "There has never been a better, more obvious time for businesses to put an end to their dirty trade of slaughtering animals for their flesh." </p>
By Andrea Willige
More than half of the world's population lives in cities, and most future population growth is predicted to happen in urban areas. But the concentration of large numbers of people and the ecosystems built around their lives has also been a driver of climate change.