By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
The BP legal saga continued on Tuesday when the corporate giant pleaded guilty to 14 criminal charges under federal law for their role in creating the Deepwater Horizon disaster which left oil workers dead, the Deepwater Horizon oil drilling platform at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico, millions of gallons of oil released into the ocean, hundreds of fishing boats idle for over a year, and thousands of miles of Gulf Coast beaches fouled by the crude. The host of criminal charges included manslaughter and obstruction of Congress. Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange (R) attended the hearing in New Orleans.
AG Strange said that BP’s conviction and sentence “moves us one step closer to getting justice for the citizens of Alabama.”
BP agreed to set aside millions of dollars to restore the Gulf coast. AG Strange said that the State of Alabama’s claims for economic and natural resource damages were not resolved by Tuesday’s conviction. AG Strange said, “I will continue devoting my time to holding BP and the other responsible parties fully accountable for the devastation they wrought on Alabama’s environment and our economy. I look forward to presenting Alabama’s case that BP was grossly negligent when we have our day in court next month.”
Alabama’s economic claims will be addressed in the BP Civil Trial which is currently set for trial in New Orleans on February 25, 2013. Alabama and the other Gulf Coast states are suing BP for violating the Clean Water Act.
Congressman Jo Bonner (R) from Mobile said, “The criminal settlement is the first phase in the ongoing settlement negotiations between BP and the federal government that will eventually include damages under the Clean Water Act. BP must not mistake the Justice Department’s agreement to these criminal penalties from the 2010 spill as a signal that pending civil penalties under the Clean Water Act will be any less severe.”
A statement from the U.S. Department of Justice said, “According to court documents, on April 20, 2010, while stationed at the Macondo well site in the Gulf of Mexico, the Deepwater Horizon rig experienced an uncontrolled blowout and related explosions. In agreeing to plead guilty, BP has admitted that the two highest-ranking BP supervisors onboard the Deepwater Horizon, known as BP’s “Well Site Leaders” or “company men,” negligently caused the deaths of 11 men and the resulting oil spill. The information details that, on the evening of April 20, the two supervisors, Kaluza and Vidrine, observed clear indications that the Macondo well was not secure and that oil and gas were flowing into the well. Despite this, BP’s well site leaders chose not to take obvious and appropriate steps to prevent the blowout. As a result of their conduct, control of the Macondo well was lost, resulting in catastrophe.”
US Attorney General Eric Holder said, “The $4 billion in penalties and fines is the single largest criminal resolution in the history of the United States and constitutes a major achievement toward fulfilling a promise that the Justice Department made nearly two years ago to respond to the consequences of this epic environmental disaster and seek justice on behalf of its victims, We specifically structured this resolution to ensure that more than half of the proceeds directly benefit the Gulf Coast region so that residents can continue to recover and rebuild.”