BP is Not Making it Right
By Michelle Erenberg, crossposted from GulfFuture.org. When it comes to the BP disaster, a big part of GRN's work is focused on ensuring BP is held accountable for restoring the Gulf's environment in the wake of this catastrophe. In part, that’s why we didn't weigh in sooner on the news stories popping up about BP’s attempt to wiggle out of their responsibility to compensate individuals and businesses for economic damagesthey suffered due to the oil disaster. However, it’s hard not to see these stories in the context of BP’s larger effort to minimize their responsibility for the damage they did (and are still doing) to the Gulf and its communities.
Back in March of last year, BP signed off on a settlement agreement for economic claims. Now, BP is calling into question the very claims process that it negotiated, and accusing Gulf residents and businesses of fraud. They are spending untold amounts of money trying to prove that people are making fraudulent claims, even setting up a hotline for this purpose. Yet, there is little evidence, if any, of widespread claims fraud.
Mississippi’s Attorney General, Jim Hood, weighed in on this in an op-ed, saying that BP has “buyer’s remorse.” He, like many others, hoped that BP would do the right thing, like they claim to in their multi-million dollar ad campaign – you’ve seen the ads, right? The truth of it is that BP is telling the country one thing, and behind the scenes they are doing everything they can to avoid being held financially accountable for the damage their oil caused to the Gulf’s fragile and unique environment, and the economy that depends on it.
Photo: Elmer's Island, Louisiana, April 12, 2013. Credit: Gulf Restoration Network
The second phase of the trial against BP for Clean Water Act violations starts in September and the results of this case will determine the amount of money that will come back to Gulf States for restoration. You better believe that BP is fighting hard not to pay what we all know it owes to truly make things right in the Gulf. The Department of Justice needs to make sure that BP pays the highest possible fines for this disaster. And the next time you see the ads on TV - the ones with the nice people standing on the beach touting all that BP has done and will do for the Gulf - remember that spending millions on a PR campaign while shirking their responsibility to pay settlement claims and calling Gulf Coast business owners liars is hardly making it right for the people on the Gulf Coast.