Judge Approves $4 Billion in Fines for BP in Gulf Disaster Deal
After a ruling earlier this week by a federal judge in New Orleans, BP now holds the record for the largest criminal penalty in U.S. history. The penalty, totaling $4 billion, is strictly related to the criminal conduct of the company that led to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion and oil leak into the Gulf of Mexico.
As part of the deal, BP agreed to plead guilty to a total of 14 counts of criminal conduct, which includes charges of felony manslaughter. However, as CNN.com points out, the charges are against the company, not any individuals involved, so prison time for those responsible will not be part of the deal.
The $4 billion criminal penalty does not affect the settlement deals for the victims along the Gulf Coast, nor does it include any environmental fines for the company. Those are separate cases that are still being worked out, and will result in several billions more in financial penalties for the company.
The Agence France-Presse has more on the pending litigation against the oil giant:
BP is set to return to the Louisiana courthouse on February 25 for a mammoth trial consolidating scores of remaining lawsuits stemming from the worst environmental disaster to strike the United States.
It must also still resolve a civil case on environmental fines which could amount to as much as $18 billion if gross negligence is found. It also remains on the hook for billions in economic damages, including the cost of environmental rehabilitation.
But the monetary penalty could be just the beginning for the company on the criminal side. As of this writing, two company executives are facing a total of 23 counts in a federal indictment.
The criminal penalty against the company, along with the pending indictments, should provide some solace to those along the Gulf Coast, and even others throughout the country, who were hoping that someone at some level of the company would be held responsible for these actions.
In the months following the oil leak into the Gulf, Facebook groups, news reports and citizen action groups called for some form of criminal justice against the company, and while no one is sitting in prison, the $4 billion penalty is certainly a good start.
By Jake Johnson
Amid reports that oil industry-friendly former Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz remains under consideration to return to his old post in the incoming Biden administration, a diverse coalition of environmental groups is mobilizing for an "all-out push" to keep Moniz away from the White House and demand a cabinet willing to boldly confront the corporations responsible for the climate emergency.
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Anger, anxiety, overwhelm … climate change can evoke intense feelings.
"It's easy to feel dwarfed in the context of such a global systemic issue," says psychologist Renée Lertzman.
She says that when people experience these feelings, they often shut down and push information away. So to encourage climate action, she advises not bombarding people with frightening facts.
"When we lead with information, we are actually unwittingly walking right into a situation that is set up to undermine our efforts," she says.
She says if you want to engage people on the topic, take a compassionate approach. Ask people what they know and want to learn. Then have a conversation.
This conversational approach may seem at odds with the urgency of the issue, but Lertzman says it can get results faster.
"When we take a compassion-based approach, we are actively disarming defenses so that people are actually more willing and able to respond and engage quicker," she says. "And we don't have time right now to mess around, and so I do actually come to this topic with a sense of urgency… We do not have time to not take this approach."
Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media
Reposted with permission from Yale Climate Connections.
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