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The Associated Press reports that BP has agreed to pay the largest criminal penalty in U.S. history and has agreed to plead guilty to obstruction for lying to Congress about the quantities of oil spilling into the Gulf of Mexico during the 2010 oil spill caused by the sinking of the Deep Water Horizon oil rig. (Update: $4.5 Billion) Also, two BP PLC employees will be charged with manslaughter for the deaths of 11 people.

Our own Lorinda Pike, of the Gulf Watchers Group, reported a Reuters article last night, Gulf Watchers: Breaking - BP Expected to Plead Guilty to Criminal Misconduct reporting more extensive background and analysis of this impending plea deal prior to the manslaughter charges being announced, this morning.  

The plea bargain covers U.S. federal government charges not the private claims people and companies suffering damages are negotiating separately. BP previously waived a $75 million cap on its liability for certain economic damage claims under the 1990 Oil Pollution Act, but previously denied gross negligence.


NEW ORLEANS — Oil giant BP has agreed to pay the largest criminal penalty in U.S. history, totaling billions of dollars, for the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, a person familiar with the deal said Thursday.

The person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on the record about the deal, also said two BP PLC employees face manslaughter charges over the death of 11 people in the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig that triggered the massive spill.

The person said BP will plead guilty to obstruction for lying to Congress about how much oil was pouring out of the ruptured well.

Below the squiggle the New York Times reports on other non-government lawsuits and claims.

Julia Werdigier of the New York Times reports BP Reported Close to Settlement With U.S. Over Gulf Spill:

“BP confirms that it is in advanced discussions with the United States Department of Justice and the Securities & Exchange Commission regarding proposed resolutions of all US federal government criminal and SEC claims against BP in connection with the Deepwater Horizon incident,” BP said in a statement.

Even if BP and the government settled on the criminal claims, BP would still be subject to other claims, including federal civil claims and claims for damages to natural resources.

In particular, this settlement, if it is reached, does not include what is potentially the largest penalty: fines under the Clean Water Act. The potential fine for the spill under the Clean Water Act is $1,100 to $4,300 per barrel spilled. That means the fine could be as much as $21 billion, according to Peter Hutton of RBC Capital Markets in London.

BP in March agreed with the lawyers for plaintiffs to settle claims on economic loss, including from the local seafood industry, and medical claims stemming from the oil spill. BP said at the time it expected the cost of that settlement to be about $7.8 billion, which it will pay from a trust the company set aside to cover such costs.

Share of BP fell 0.8 percent in this morning's markets.

Let's hope this is a sufficient penalty to cause commercial operators of operations  potentially dangerous to the environment and surrounding populations to improve their operations. But, this focus on BP alone is not sufficient. We need to greatly improve government regulations and oversight capability which will require expanding budgets and staffing for government regulatory oversight bodies such as the EPA which were also shown to have fallen short.  

Additionally, this incident and the Fukushima disaster illustrate the need for stronger global oversight institutions to protect the interests of all the people in a region. The IAEA was shown to be unable to adequately oversee the complicity of the Japanese government in attempts to manage public relations and cover-up the seriousness of the accidents rather than be primarily focused on global public safety. Who will look out for threats, and damages to those affected outside of the U.S.?

Who is responsible for protecting the interests of all citizens of the world when local governments and industry cut corners on safety, or fail to competently manage highly dangerous nuclear, chemical, or biological hazards that could pose dangers to all citizens of the world across national boundaries, such as is the case with global warming harming our planet's atmosphere? We need to develop stronger global oversight bodies. And, you think right-wing knuckle-dragging successionists are upset now? Soon, they will be looking for other planets to escape collective responsibilities for the common good.  

8:48 AM PT: CNN announces  the plea deal includes a $4.5 billion settlement with one felony count of obstruction of Congress.

One person is involved with criminal charges for deleting emails. CNN is not certain if this deal absolves the management from criminal charges.

2 misdemeanor counts of violating environmental regulations.

Eric Holder is going to hold a news conference later this afternoon.


10:26 AM PT: HuffPO reports additional late breaking details BP Oil Spill Settlement Announced

NEW ORLEANS -- BP said Thursday that it will pay $4.5 billion in a settlement with the U.S. government over the disastrous 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and plead guilty to criminal charges related to the deaths of 11 workers and lying to Congress. ...
The settlement, which is subject to approval by a federal judge, includes payments of nearly $2.4 billion to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, $350 million to the National Academy of Sciences and about $500 million to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

London-based BP PLC said in a statement that the settlement would not cover any civil penalties the U.S. government might seek under the Clean Water Act and other laws. Nor does it cover billions of dollars in claims brought by states, businesses and individuals, including fishermen, restaurants and property owners. A federal judge in New Orleans is weighing a separate, proposed $7.8 billion settlement between BP and more than 100,000 businesses and individuals harmed by the spill.

The charges BP will plead guilty to are 11 felony counts of misconduct or neglect of a ship's officers, one felony count of obstruction of Congress and one misdemeanor count each under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Clean Water Act. The workers' deaths were prosecuted under a provision of the Seaman's Manslaughter Act. The obstruction charge is for lying to Congress about how much oil was spewing from the ruptured well.

Originally posted to HoundDog on Thu Nov 15, 2012 at 07:28 AM PST.

Also republished by WE NEVER FORGET, Invisible People, In Support of Labor and Unions, Anti-Capitalist Chat, and Gulf Watchers Group.

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