On Thursday BP and the Coast Guard took a stealthy cruise in the Gulf of Mexico to look for oil leaking from the site of the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe. That’s right, two and a half years after the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history, oil is still leaking near the infamous Macondo well. A miles-long oil sheen was spotted 50 miles off the Louisiana coast in September.
And, reminiscent of the early days of the disaster, BP is again not making the scope of the problem clear, according to Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA.) who, along with Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), has repeatedly asked BP for underwater video and information regarding the size of the slicks. BP has denied those requests citing ongoing litigation.
"Back in 2010, I said BP was either lying or incompetent. Well, it turns out they were both,” said Markey. “This is the same crime scene, and the American public today is entitled to the same information that BP was lying about in 2010 so that we can understand the full dimension of the additional environmental damage."
Last month, BP settled its criminal penalties with the federal government for $4.5 billion. This settlement was a fraction of what it could have been, and Oceana has determined that BP still rightfully owes the American taxpayer as much as $50 billion for additional violations of the law and for the devastation wrought by the 2010 spill.
Now BP faces civil charges and potentially tens of billions of dollars in natural resource damages. If the Justice Department is truly serious about holding BP accountable for its actions in the Gulf, it should pursue those charges in full.
In the meantime, BP needs to make sure crude oil stops leaking into this sensitive ecosystem and most of all it needs to level with the public about what is happening in the Gulf.