For all its public relations efforts to brand itself as an active participant in the cleanup of the Gulf Coast, British Petroleum is exceptionally averse to paying for such cleanup efforts. Last week, BP lost its attempt to seek a retrial for a September federal ruling that found the company liable for $18 billion in fines due to Clean Water Act violations resulting from “gross negligence” in the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill, the largest oil spill in U.S. history.
In response, the company has filed an appeal with a federal judge to cap its Clean Water Act fines at $12 billion. These appeals follow the findings of a recent study that indicate the damage of the spill is far worse than previously anticipated, with a massive ring of oil still resting on the ocean floor at the spill site.
The original penalty assessed to BP would charge the oil conglomerate up to $4,400 per barrel spilled (an estimated 4.9 million barrels of oil spilled into the gulf during the Deepwater Horizon explosion). BP argues in its court filing that, “It cannot be the law that 20 or more federal agencies all simultaneously possess the power to inflate the civil penalty amounts.”
This isn’t the first time BP, which claims to have already spent $28 million on cleanup efforts, is objecting to its gulf coast bill. In June, BP sought millions of dollars in restitution and interest from businesses it previously compensated for damages in the affected region due to a change in laws surrounding compensation of Deepwater Horizon victims. In 2012, BP settled a class action suit with victims of the spill for $7.8 billion.
As ThinkProgress notes, BP only set aside $3.5 billion for Clean Water Act fines out of its $43 billion dollar fund for the Gulf Coast cleanup.
The Clean Water Act contains specific provisions for fines on the release of contaminants due to gross negligence. The cost of the BP oil spill exceeded $40 billion before the end of 2010, and the recent federal ruling roundly rejected BP’s claims that Halliburton, Transocean and other organizations were equally liable in the spill. Even at the full $18 million penalty, combined with BP’s previous $28 million in cleanup expenses, BP is unquestionably getting a discount, considering that scientists still are unable to fully comprehend the full damage of the spill four years later.