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Entries in BP (5)

Friday
Sep052014

Judge Rules BP Grossly Negligent in Gulf Oil Spill

BP could be fined the largest penalty ever levied under the federal Clean Water Act (CWA).

That’s because U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier recently ruled that the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico occurred because of the company’s gross negligence, meaning BP could be liable for as much as $18 billion in pollution fines.

 That amount is far more than the $3.5 billion that the company had set aside and, according to the Wall Street Journal, “would easily exceed the biggest previous fine under the statute.”

That amount was based on BP’s belief that the court would rule the company liable for simple negligence. But a verdict of gross negligence means a fine of as much as $4,300 for each barrel of crude oil spilled in the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history.

The judge could decide on lower penalties per barrel, but still the amount is likely to surpass the previous CWA record of $1 billion paid by Transocean Ltd, the owner of the Deepwater Horizon rig.

“More than four years after the BP oil disaster, today’s ruling is a vital step towards restoring important waterfowl and fishing habitat for the next generation of sportsmen and women,” said Vanishing Paradise, a coalition of about 800 hunting and fishing organizations advocating for restoration of the Mississippi River Delta and the gulf.

“The oil spill tarnished hundreds of miles of coastline and marshes important to fresh and saltwater fishing and waterfowling. The areas most damaged by the spill cannot wait any longer for restoration to begin. Recreational fishing is a critical component of the Gulf economy generating $8 billion annually.

“In Louisiana alone, some 10 million ducks, geese and other waterfowl winter along the coast and depend on healthy marshes. We must invest penalty monies in real restoration projects that clean up and restore the waters and coastal habitat that are the backbone of the Gulf region’s economy.”

Monday
Jan272014

Indiana Moves to Reduce Pollution of Lake Michigan

Guide Dale Stroschein fights a Lake Michigan smallmouth. Photo by Robert Montgomery

Anglers, environmentalists and many others are pleased with a recent decision by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) to reduce pollution of Lake Michigan and its fisheries.

A stricter IDEM permit requires BP’s Whiting oil refinery, just outside Chicago, to lower its mercury discharges from 23 parts per trillion to 8.75.

“We are pleased the agency responded to our recommendation by strengthening the mercury requirements and requiring BP to submit and update its stormwater plan,” said Lyman Welch of the Alliance for the Great Lakes. “Still, we are disappointed that IDEM did not go as far as we’d hoped to protect the waters of the Great Lakes.”

At BP, meanwhile, spokesman Scott Dean said that new technologies for pollution reduction are promising.

“BP is committed to protecting Lake Michigan and we are cautiously optimistic that our recent investment in new water treatment equipment will further reduce the Whiting Refinery mercury discharge,” Dean said. “Having said that, the mercury limit in the revised permit has decreased by more than half and the refinery needs to gain experience operating the new equipment before we will know if the refinery can successfully and consistently meet this revised limit.”

The company has almost completed a $3.8 billion expansion that will make it a top processor of heavy crude oil from Canada’s tar sand deposits. Following announcement of construction in 2007, IDEM allowed BP to increase its discharge of mercury, ammonia, and suspended solids.

Public outrage over that decision convinced BP to abide by stricter standards for ammonia and dissolved solids. But Indiana allowed an exemption for mercury as the company worked on technology to scrub its waste of that pollutant.

(This article appeared originally in B.A.S.S. Times.)

Friday
Apr122013

Fish, Dolphins, Turtles Continue as Casualties of Oil Spill

In the wake of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, consequences for fish and wildlife weren’t nearly as disastrous in the Gulf of Mexico as I feared they would be.  Still, they weren’t good.

And they still aren’t. No one is suggesting that the coastal states aren't open for tourism business or that the fishing isn't good, but some species still are being harmed.

“Three years after the initial explosion, the impacts of the disaster continue to unfold,” said Doug Inkley, senior scientist for the National Wildlife Federation. “Dolphins are still dying in high numbers in the areas affected by oil. These ongoing deaths—particularly in an apex predator like the dolphin—are a strong indication that there is something amiss with the Gulf ecosystem.”

Restoring a Degraded Gulf of Mexico: Wildlife and Wetlands Three Years into the Gulf Oil Disaster looks at how different species of wildlife across the northern Gulf are faring in the wake of the oil disaster:

  • Dolphin deaths in the area affected by oil have remained above average every month since just before the spill began. Infant dolphins were found dead at six times average rates in January and February of 2013.
  • The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) called the dolphin die-off “unprecedented”—a year ago. While NOAA is keeping many elements of its dolphin research confidential pending the conclusion of the ongoing trial, the agency has ruled out the most common causes of previous dolphin die-offs.
  • More than 1,700 sea turtles were found stranded between May 2010 and November 2012—the last date for which information is available. For comparison, on average about 240 sea turtles are stranded annually.
  • A coral colony seven miles from the wellhead was badly damaged by oil. A recent laboratory study found that the mixture of oil and dispersant affected the ability of some coral species to build new parts of a reef.
  • Scientists found that the oil disaster affected the cellular function of the killifish, a common baitfish at the base of the food web. A recent laboratory study found that oil exposure can also harm the development of larger fish such as mahi mahi. 

“The oil disaster highlighted the gaps in our understanding of the Gulf of Mexico,” said Ian MacDonald, professor of Oceanography at Florida State University.

“What frustrates me is how little has changed over the past three years. In many cases, funding for critical research has even been even been cut, limiting our understanding of the disaster’s impacts. For example, we know that some important coral communities were damaged, but funding for the necessary follow up has not been there.”

The report’s release comes as BP and the other companies responsible for the disaster are on trial in federal court for violations of multiple environmental laws. The report describes different sources of restoration funding resulting from the disaster and provides initial suggestions for how this money can be used to improve the outlook for the species discussed in the report.

“Despite the public relations blitz by BP, this spill is not over,” said David Muth, director of the National Wildlife Federation’s Mississippi River Delta Restoration Program.

 “In 2012 six million pounds of tar mat and contaminated material from the BP spill were cleaned up from Louisiana’s coast. Justice will only be served when BP and its co-defendants pay to restore the wildlife and habitats of the Mississippi River Delta and the Gulf of Mexico.”

Other oil disasters have taken years to reveal their full effects, and often recovery remains incomplete after decades. To date, the disaster response has focused on removing the visible oil, but little has been done to tackle the region’s long-standing habitat degradation and water quality problems—issues that were exacerbated by the oil disaster.

“I’ve always considered myself truly fortunate to make a living fishing these waters,” said Ryan Lambert, owner of Cajun Fishing Adventures, a lodge and charter boat operation in Buras, Louisiana. “Right now, we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get this ecosystem back on its feet, but we need to make sure we use the money from BP’s penalties on projects that will improve the health of the Gulf in the long run. That’s the best way to restore our economy, and it is the best way to make sure our children have the opportunity to enjoy this region as we have for decades.”

Friday
Nov162012

BP Funds to Benefit Gulf of Mexico Fish and Wildlife

About $2.4 billion of BP’s recent settlement agreement of $4.5 billion will go to benefit fish and wildlife habitats along the Gulf Coast. Those funds will be funneled through the National Fish And Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), an independent non-profit conservation groups chartered by Congress in 1984.

"Ducks Unlimited applauds the decision to direct a significant portion of the settlement funds to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation," DU CEO Dale Hall said.

"NFWF is the appropriate organization to manage these funds and determine how they can best be used to benefit Gulf Coast fish and wildlife and the people who depend on these resources for their livelihood and recreation. NFWF's role in managing these funds is good news for the people and wildlife of the Gulf Coast."

Under this agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice, BP pled guilty to several criminal charges for its role in the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster, which discharged an estimated 200 million gallons of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

“All of us at BP deeply regret the tragic loss of life caused by the Deepwater Horizon accident as well as the impact of the spill on the Gulf coast region,” said Bob Dudley, BP’s Group Chief Executive.

“From the outset, we stepped up by responding to the spill, paying legitimate claims and funding restoration efforts in the Gulf. We apologize for our role in the accident, and as today’s resolution with the U.S. government further reflects, we have accepted responsibility for our actions.”

The $4.5 billion settlement does not resolve penalties that could result from violations of the Clean Water Act. These penalties could range as high as $20 million if BP is found guilty of gross negligence.

To learn more, check out Ducks Unlimited and this BP press release.

Thursday
Feb092012

Your Help Needed to Ensure Restoration of Gulf of Mexico, Mississippi Delta

As we know all too well, politicians love to spend money --- other people’s money.

Right now, some in Congress are looking enviously at money that should go to restoration of the Gulf of Mexico and the Mississippi Delta. In the wake of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, that’s why BP and other companies paid more than $20 billion, and that’s where the money should be spent.

Yet some representatives and senators would like to put that money into the general fund, which is a black hole of waste and political favors. During these tough economic times, and especially during this election year, these politicians are more concerned about their own careers than they are about doing what’s right.

We can’t let that happen.

That’s why leaders from sportsmen’s groups across the country are going to Washington, D.C., and that’s why your help is needed.

Before our spokesmen get there next week to meet with politicians, please contact your elected representatives and senators, asking them to support the bi-partisan RESTORE Act, which will ensure funds are spent on Gulf and Delta restoration.

“We want to ring their phones and raise awareness for this issue so that when the one-on-one meetings happen next week, they’ll say, ‘Yeah, I’ve been getting calls on this,’” says Recycled Fish’s Teeg Stouffer, one of those going to Washington.

The Vanishing Paradise website can provide you with more information about this. Click “Take Action” for assistance with sending a message or making a phone call.

Also, check out these videos:

Why the RESTORE Act and Gulf restoration are important, no matter where you live.

Fish Schtick interview with Vanishing Paradise spokesmen.

Restoring the Mississippi River Delta.