U.S. Should Terminate All of BP’s Leases NOW
The U.S. government can and should do this, according to two people who would know.
Jeanne Pascal was an attorney for eighteen years with the Environmental Protection Agency. She said:
“I have to conclude that there comes a point in time where we say enough is enough. Because BP has definitely turned into a major serial environmental criminal.”
She mentions three other BP disasters over the past ten years, including a 2006 oil spill in Alaska. The company was prosecuted on felony charges, with some of their personnel facing prison time. But the company pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor, and no individuals were charged.
Jeanne Pascal said: “I think the people involved in what's happened in the Gulf need to spend a good time in jail and think about it.”
Scott West is an EPA special agent in charge of the criminal investigation of the BP oil spill in Alaska. He said:
“The people who are making the decisions, playing fast and loose on that Gulf rig — 'hurry up, we are over time, we are over budget, let's take the shortcut' — if they'd seen some of their peers go to jail for those kinds of decisions, maybe they would have said, you know my bonus this year just isn't worth it.”
In 2005, a BP refinery in Texas City exploded, killing fifteen people, injuring 170 and devastating the entire community. BP received a $50 million fine and three years probation. West said:
“We kept hearing a phrase called 'operate to failure.' The federal investigators down in Houston were hearing the same sort of thing.” In other words, systems and equipment were operated to the point of failure, instead of being maintained. As this article says, that’s like seeing the red “Check Engine” light flashing on your dashboard, and deciding to just keep driving and driving and driving ‘til your car dies.
West said that in the Texas City case, investigators were “finding the exact same patterns of neglecting worker safety and environmental concerns to save a few dollars. That, of course, indicated to us that it was corporate-wide. It wasn't just isolated to a particular operating unit.”
Jeanne Pascal (now retired) specialized in the process of debarment. It’s a complex time-consuming process where a company can ultimately lose their authority to do business with the U.S. government. BP was debarred in 2008 for their Alaska oil spill, but in that case it only meant they couldn’t get any more federal contracts at Prudhoe Bay. She said that because of the Gulf oil spill, the EPA, Interior Department and Department of Defense should consider a more sweeping debarment for BP.
Well, what are we waiting for???