The Center for Biological Diversity has filed a $19 billion lawsuit against BP for destruction of the water quality in the Gulf of Mexico in violation of the Clean Water Act. Climate Campaign Coordinator for the San Francisco field office of the member-supported group Rose Braz confirmed the nonprofit filed suit in federal court June 18, 2010. The group continues to protest against the ongoing bleeding of oil into the Gulf of Mexico by demanding an end to offshore drilling and a switch to clean energy.
The Clean Water Act was the nation’s first federal legislation concerning water quality passed in 1972 by President Richard Nixon. The Clean Water Act was enacted to eliminate the discharge of pollutants in U.S. waterways from point sources to improve the quality of water for fishing and swimming. Per this legislation, violations found to have been the result of gross negligence or willful misconduct include maximum fines, which for oil would be $4,300 per barrel spilled.
Estimates of the number of barrels gushing into the ocean obtained by the Center for Biological Diversity indicate “the company is already liable for approximately $11 billion in Clean Water Act penalties. If the spill continues through August 1, 2010, the liability will be approximately $19 billion.”
Remuneration for Gulf Coast Restoration Efforts
The Center for Biodiversity Studies released a statement saying it would plan to have penalties paid to the U.S. Treasury to be available for Gulf Coast restoration efforts. The Center’s lawsuit also seeks a full and honest accounting from BP of how much oil is gushing into the Gulf each day and what toxic pollutants are mixed in with the oil. In addition to the oil, the Center says the “spill is also leaking hazardous chemicals including benzene, arsenic and naphthalene.”
Indications are that BP will be treated far differently than Exxon was in the Valdez oil spill given a less loyal to oil industry U.S. administration. Exxon paid $2 billion in cleanup costs for an 11 million gallon spill. However, the criminal and punitive awards became a tug of war over what would be the next two decades that would reduce that figure to $1 billion including interest accrued during appeals most recently in a June 16, 2009 ruling, writes Carol Williams of the LA Times.
Remuneration will be much more swift by comparison. This past week, President Obama came to a beginning arrangement in which BP will fund an escrow account of $20 billion. The disbursement of funds is to be administered by Kenneth Feinberg, who oversaw the 9/11 victims’ compensation fund.
The group’s next plans locally are to invite concerned citizens to its June 26, 2010 Hands Across the Sands Event. The point of the event will be to draw a line in the sand to say no to offshore oil and yes to clean energy.
Center for Biological Diversity June 18, 2010 Press Release.
Raven & Berg, (2006). Environment 5th Edition. Hobokin, NJ. John Wiley & Sons. p. 528.
Williams, Carol (2009) Exxon must pay $480 million in interest over Valdez oil tanker spill. Retrieved June 19, 2010.