Top Ten True costs of BP Gulf Oil Spill

BP yesterday agreed to pay a fine of some $4.5 billion dollars from the US Department of Justice for malfeasance in the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the largest fine paid in US history. There are also manslaughter and obstruction of justice charges against individual executives.

BP also was forced by President Obama to pay out $20 billion for damage claims, though it has dragged its feet in actually making the payments. It faces further lawsuits and private payouts.

Given the high price of petroleum, however, BP can pay the fine with no difficulty (it is allowed to pay it over five years, or less than $1 billion a year. The company’s profits in 2011 were were $40 billion. The fine was so slight that BP stock rose slightly on the news.

Meanwhile the actual damage that the oil spill did to the environment was almost certainly man tens of billions more than any payouts BP has been forced to engage in. Not only is the monetary damage, in harm to fishing and tourism, substantial, but the damage to quality of life and to marine life and fisheries is unacceptably high.

All this before we even get to the point that BP’s oil sales are causing tons and tons of carbon dioxide to be dumped into the atmosphere, accelerating destructive climate change.

Here are some of the real costs of the oil spill, which typically won’t be mentioned in the MSM, and which dwarf in their cost a mere $4.5 billion fine.:

1. Fish with lesions and oozing sores. Dr. Jim Cowan: “The fishermen have never seen anything like this… And in my 20 years working on red snapper, looking at somewhere between 20 and 30,000 fish, I’ve never seen anything like this either.”

2. Eyeless shrimp.

(This parody of the BP greenwashing ads points to the upside here):

3. Already-endangered blue fin tuna further endangered

4. A “graveyard of corals” on the floor of the Gulf

5. Tar balls “teeming” with deadly Vibrio vulnificus bacteria (akin to the one that causes cholera) still being deposited on Gulf beaches.:

6. Much reduced oyster catches, and increased heavy metals in oysters, along with increased vibrio vulnificus bacterial infections in oysters.

7. Seriously ill dolphins. Some washed up on the beach:

8. Petroleum pollution in pelican eggs far from the Gulf, years later, following on initial images of Oil-drenched pelicans:

9. Disruption of nitrogen cycle of key microorganisms in Gulf waters, on which crabs and others feed.

10. Damage to plant life on Gulf islands and along the shore.

Posted in Environment | 7 Responses | Print |

7 Responses

  1. As I wrote back in 1980, “Economically, there is no human life without exploitation, without making use of things or people for your own purposes. To live for one more minute, we must breathe, and thus exploit the economic object, ‘air.’ Polynesian islanders exploit the breadfruit tree and the palm leaves and the fish in the sea, they make use of these items for their own purposes. By this definition, who can avoid being ‘an exploiter?’ ”

    In the context of 2012, every one of us who has ever traveled in a vehicle with a gasoline engine, every one of us who has played a video game powered by electricity generated by coal,, oil, or natural gas is guilty in the destruction of the our natural environment.

    However, it is not important for us to feel or act guilty, it is important for us to organize socially and politically to oppose and end the power of those who are very, very, VERY guilty in creating and maintaining a world economic structure based on fossil fuel energy which looks quite capable of killing all prosperity, and perhaps even all “higher civilization” in another generation or two.

  2. I would also like to know how so many rockets and launchers came to be inside Gaza and exactly which factions are doing the shooting.

  3. Thanks Prof. Cole, fine summary.

    I am unable to desribe how miserable I feel, because of these kinds of catastrophes, and because of the misery we are inflicting on the planet .

  4. According to Citizens United and the Supremes, corporations have citizenship rights …except when it comes to publicly committing crimes they admit they are guilty of. Like in the BP example. So …who’s going to jail? No, for complicity in crimes they hide behind their corporate shield as non-citizens and pay measly fines using someone else’s money, their customers. Worse, our government is complicit in this charade of justice. At least when Reagan was president, over 1,000 corporate criminals in the S&L scandal actually did serve time.

    But oh my, if your caught with a few joints in your pocket, it’s jail time for you, another payoff to the prison-governmental complex. To paraphrase basketball player Allen Iverson, “JUSTICE? Are we talkin’ about Justice?”

  5. How could you possibly leave out the greatest costs of all? I am referring to the shortened life spans and loss of jobs for the people living in the Gulf region, as well as everyone else who eats contaminated seafood from the Gulf.

  6. Amazing, BP stock prices go up, as billions are nothing and they are laughing all the way to the bank to deposit another $40 Billion. They could have 10 oil spills like the Gulf one and not have to dip into reserves. Just raise the price of gas, like government, they actually aren’t the ones paying the cost, consumers are. Monopolies are like that, they are protected by their control of the market.
    In Nicaragua, the oil company’s control of profits for the utility company allows them to REFUSE the solar energy to have “net metering” thus making everyone buy batteries or not at all. Oil, Oil and more Oil.

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