As we observe four years since the BP drilling disaster in the Gulf, and the twenty-fifth year since the Exxon Valdez disaster, BP has taken a more adversarial stance. Instead of focusing on making things right, BP has followed the example of the tobacco companies, challenging the scientific evidence when it is unfavorable to the company, and cherry-picking the data when it suits them.
BP isn’t just challenging existing science – it was also recently revealed that the company refused to pay for government-led studies of its impacts for the Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) process. NRDA is supposed to gather the evidence resulting in the responsible party restoring the environment, and compensating for loss of public use of the environment. That’s going to be hard to do if BP continues to fight against paying for the very scientific research needed to evaluate how badly they damaged the Gulf. On top of that, BP is attempting to renege on their agreement on compensation procedures for people harmed economically by the blowout.
All of this is happening as dolphins continue to die at alarming rates, bird deaths have been recalculated at about 800,000, and tarballs and tar mats continue to wash up on Gulf shorelines. Looking ahead, we will need state and federal leaders to respond to the challenge of BP’s “tobacco company defense” and hold them fully accountable. And with the final phase of BP’s Clean Water Act trial scheduled for January of 2015, Gulf Restoration Network will keep working to tell the truth about how BP’s oil is impacting the Gulf, and make sure that BP pays the maximum fines possible under the law.
Steve Murchie is GRN's Campaign Director.