Despite BP’s fancy multi-million dollar ad campaign saying everything is okay, the Gulf and its people are still reeling from the impacts of the worst environmental disaster in US history.
Fishermen are out of work; shrimp and oyster harvest numbers are way down; marine mammals, especially dolphins, wash in on a daily basis, dead; Gulf fish with lesions consistent with exposure to oil toxins are increasing rapidly; humans, especially those who worked on BP’s “vessels of opportunity” programme are sick and tests reveal high levels of hydrocarbons in their blood; social problems associated with communities who have been exposed to a disaster are on the rise; and on and on and on. The damages resulting directly from BP’s drilling disaster are real, they are current and they are widespread.
For some along the Gulf coast, the recent partial settlement between BP and the plaintiffs’ steering committee is big (and hopefully good) news, but this step does not resolve any of the legal issues surrounding environmental damage and large-scale restoration of the Gulf.
BP and their co-defendants remain on the hook for fines, stemming from the Clean Water Act and other environmental laws, of potentially more than $20bn – and the government must hold BP and others fully accountable for damages to the marine ecosystem, our coasts and wildlife.
While a prolonged trial pitting federal, state and local governments against BP looks likely, it is imperative that Congress act quickly to ensure Clean Water Act fines resulting from the BP drilling disaster are directed to restoration of the Gulf environment.
The first Clean Water Act settlement with a BP drilling disaster related entity, MOEX, directed less than 25 per cent of fines towards Gulf conservation initiatives, an unacceptably low precedent. BP will also still need to pay an as-of-yet undetermined amount for the Natural Resources Damage Assessment and subsequent recovery efforts that come out of that process, which is designed to return the Gulf environment to its pre-disaster state.
“BP and their co-defendants remain on the hook for fines, stemming from the Clean Water Act and other environmental laws, of potentially more than $20bn…”
The announced partial settlement does not address protecting the Gulf from future disasters. Any potential settlement between government and BP should include funding for a Gulf of Mexico Regional Citizens’ Advisory Council to give impacted communities a voice in ensuring that oil and gas operations pay proper heed to safety and environmental laws.
via BP oil disaster: People still reeling from impacts – Opinion – Al Jazeera English.
Inside Story Americas – Is the US oil spill issue really settled?
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