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One Month Later: Five Things We Know About the BP Gulf Disaster

May 20, 2010

One Month Later: Five Things We Know About the BP Gulf Disaster

Statement by Tyson Slocum, Director of Public Citizen’s Energy Program

A month has passed since the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf of Mexico, and still, oil is gushing from a broken well at a rate that is still being debated but is likely far higher than BP, the company responsible for the disaster, originally estimated. Here’s what we know so far:
1. We should have seen it coming. BP was under criminal probation at the time of the disaster for felony violation of U.S. environmental laws. The company has one of the worst track records of any oil company operating in America. It needs more than just a financial slap on the wrist, which is what it will get if the $75 million liability cap remains in place. Instead, BP should pay full damages to those who have lost their livelihoods in addition to playing for the cost of cleanup.
2. Mounting evidence shows that BP was negligent. Firsthand accounts describe BP managers proceeding with work to cap the well, even though they were informed that the integrity of the blowout preventer had been compromised. BP must be held accountable – and should be subject to permanent sanctions and criminal charges against executives.
3. BP is as transparent as oil about the disaster. BP has consistently misled the public about how much oil is gushing from the well, has forbidden scientists from more thoroughly analyzing the rate of the gusher and has blocked journalists from taking photos of oil-covered beaches. At the same time, BP is footing the bill for a $70 million television ad campaign to assure tourists that Gulf Coast beaches are safe.
4. The Minerals Management Service cannot be trusted to protect workers, the environment or taxpayers. We need a total overhaul of this dreadful agency – now.
5. We must ban all new leasing, permitting and drilling offshore until a full investigation is complete. It would be senseless to continue this practice for one more second until safety is analyzed and improvements are implemented.

BP must pay. We urge the public to pledge to boycott BP for at least three months by visiting www.BeyondBP.org.

Learn more about BP’s history of violations.

Public Citizen is a national, nonprofit consumer advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C. For more information, please visit www.citizen.org.