On Thursday, oil giant BP pled guilty to 14 charges related to the 2010 gulf oil spill and agreed to pay $4.5 billion in fines. Despite being the largest settlement in our nation’s history, it’s nothing compared to the actual damage BP did to our nation two years ago. A senior investigator with Greenpeace said the settlement, “fails every aspect of the common accepted notion of penalty.” And a spokesperson with Public Citizens responded to the settlement saying, “We’re stunned. This settlement is pathetic…The point of the criminal justice system is twofold: to punish and deter. This does neither.”
Over the course of three months, BP’s oil well spewed 5 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, choking marine life, blanketing coastlines, and ruining small businesses. Public Citizen estimates that total amount of damage caused by the spill at more than $50 billion dollars, yet BP is liable for $4.5 billion, which is less money than the corporation makes in just three months. There is still possibility that two workers at BP will face manslaughter charges and take the fall for the deaths of 11 men when the oil rig exploded. But ultimately, there will be no lasting punishment for BP, which has gone back to business as usual punching holes in our Gulf of Mexico.
This was the worst environmental disaster in our nation’s history, and if that isn’t enough reason to give BP the corporate death penalty and revoke their corporate charter, then I don’t know what is. Corporations have run roughshod over our nation for too long, it’s time to restrain them like Teddy Roosevelt did after the Robber Baron Era.
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