BP Oil Disaster

Holding BP Accountable

On April 20, 2010, a horrific explosion on an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico killed 11 workers and set off the worst corporate-made ecological disaster in our nation’s history.

BP, the corporation responsible for the catastrophe, is a repeat corporate criminal whose profit-before-people culture has resulted in myriad environmental and worker safety violations.

In addition to accident- and spill-related expenditures, BP faces criminal and civil fines. These fines must reflect the full scope of laws the corporation has violated, the severity of the disaster and BP’s history of criminal negligence. The fines, penalties and collateral consequences – including debarment from federal contracts – must serve as both a just punishment and deterrence from future negligence.

In November, the U.S. Department of Justice announced a plea agreement with BP that requires the company to pay $4.5 billion in fines and other payments to settle criminal charges.

In response to BP’s guilty plea, the government temporarily suspended the corporation from bidding on lucrative federal contracts. However, reports indicate the suspension may last only a short period. Public Citizen is calling for a ban for at least the entirety of BP’s five-year probation period.

Take Action: Demand that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ban BP from federal contracts until it has demonstrated over a period of years that it can behave responsibly.

The civil trial that will focus on the causes of the accident is set to begin on Feb. 25, where BP’s remaining liability will be determined. Liability may include civil fines under the Clean Water Act and potentially billions more to pay for environmental and economic projects required under the Oil Pollution Act's Natural Resource Damage Assessment process.

Preventing Another Disaster

Investigations into the rig explosion reveal that lax regulations allowed BP and its contractors to prioritize expediency and cost-cutting at the expense of worker safety and environmental protection.

Even since this catastrophe, Congress has failed to pass meaningful legislation to hold the oil industry accountable, reform the regulatory process, and protect workers and the environment.

View our tally of how many recommendations from the oil spill task force have been implemented (pdf).

Congressional action is needed to implement the oil spill commission recommendations (pdf)

Take Action:Tell Congress to pass oil spill legislation.

Two years of inaction is unacceptable. It is time to pass the necessary policies and reforms to address the lessons learned from the worst oil spill in U.S. history.


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