Email to the Editor: Make the BP Polluters Pay!

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From Emily McArthur <emilyfromBoston@…com>
To: Socialist Alternative <[email protected]>

Recently, the U.S. government levied a $4.5 billion fine against BP, ordered to be paid over the course of four years. Despite being touted as the largest corporate negligence fine in US history, the settlement promised BP that no criminal charges would be pressed.

Less widely reported, Department of Defense contracts with BP actually increased after the Deepwater-Horizon oil spill, up 2.5% from $2.2 billion in 2010. So, with billions shuffling from the hands of the warmongers in the Pentagon to the oil executives at BP, in January BP brazenly halted payments going to those hit hardest by their catastrophic greed: working people and the poor in the devastated Gulf region.

BP alleges the use of “flawed data” in calculating economic losses tied to court-ordered payouts, as fishermen try desperately to manage a living in the contaminated Gulf waters, full of eyeless fish and shrimp mutilated by BP’s chemical dispersants. BP’s ironic choice of words brings to mind the willfully “flawed data” used to conceal safety hazards in Deepwater Horizon’s drilling equipment.

Somehow this all makes sense, because under capitalism, no matter how many times BP’s PR puts out a phony ad telling us how “sorry” they are for the negligence that led to the loss of workers’ lives and livelihoods, they will continue to do whatever it takes to maximize corporate profits, to cut every corner they can no matter what the cost to people and the environment. At first, BP expressed a willingness to negotiate compensation for oil spill victims, but perhaps they knew all along that big business politicians–Democrats AND Republicans–would never hold them to account.

Elsewhere, Exxon seems to be riding on the coattails of this lack of regulation, completely skipping out on paying into the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund by means of a loophole that doesn’t consider the toxic sludge seeping out of their Arkansas Pegasus pipeline as an “oil spill”. While the long-term damage of both spills remain to be seen, public anger should swell in response to the halted settlement and the environment of deregulation. We demand BP and Exxon pay for the damage they’ve done!

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