Today BP got hit with four arrests for manslaughter and lying to Congress and $3 to $5 billion in federal fines for the ACCIDENTAL oil spill that resulted in 11 deaths and an estimated $40 billion plus in damages to individuals and local businesses. The U.S. Department of Justice is expected to announce a settlement deal later today. It will not include civil claims under the Clean Water Act and other legislation, pending private civil claims and state claims for economic loss, which means the total cost to BP could be $40 to $60 billion for a spill that was remediated, at least on the surface, in a few months. See here.
This news is in stark contrast to the legal battle against Chevron for massive oil contamination in Ecuador. Chevron has refused to pay a $19 billion judgment awarded last year by an Ecuador court, forcing the Ecuadorians to file lawsuits in other countries to seize company assets as payment.
1) The damages in the Ecuadorian rainforest was intentional, not accidental. Chevron designed, built and operated its drilling system in Ecuador to pollute in order to maximize its profits there.
2) Chemical toxins and pure crude have been leeching into the soil and waterways for five decades, while Chevron has fought the Ecuadorians' lawsuit for damages for 20 years. U.S. courts forced the Ecuadorians to try their case in Ecuador, delaying a judgment by a decade. BP cleaned its contamination in a few months.
3) At least 1,400 people have died from cancer and thousands more have oil-related illnesses resulting from Chevron's contamination. The BP spill resulted in 11 deaths and damage to wildlife and other environmental impacts.
4) Chevron dumped 16 billion gallons of oil and toxic water into the soil and waterways and built 900 huge unlined pits to store pure crude and toxic water. The BP spill occurred off shore and is not believed to be a threat (at least for now) to humans and wildlife.
5) Chevron, U.S. oil analysts and the U.S. media laughed at early damage estimates against Chevron ranging from $16 to $27 billion in Ecuador. BP will likely pay up to $60 billion in damages.
It's hard not to conclude that a U.S. life is just worth more than an Ecuadorian life. BP is being held accountable for its mistake, but Chevron remains a fugitive from justice for its intentional crimes.
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