BP is Even More Dangerously Arrogant Than You Thought

Striped dolphins swim through BP oil, April 2012 (NOAA’s National Ocean Service)
Haven’t been following the BP oil spill trial this week? You’ve missed a series of incredible revelations that have provided a window inside BP’s grossly negligent corporate culture. At no point, from inadequate safety plans to the deadly well blowout to its lazy investigation to its decision to go to trial, has BP’s management team ever let reality or facts slow it down from making incredibly arrogant, breathtakingly stupid decisions that put the company and its workers, the American people and wildlife in grave danger.

We’ll take a detailed walk through that history later. But first, the latest from the trial, where a senior BP official admitted on the stand yesterday that BP couldn’t be bothered to gather all available evidence during its internal investigation:

A BP team investigating the company’s Macondo well blowout that led to the explosion and fire that sank the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in April 2010 never received the results of tests of a light cement used to plug the well from cement contractor Halliburton, a senior BP official leading the investigation said Wednesday. Mark Bly, BP’s executive vice president for safety and operational risk, confirmed during testimony Wednesday afternoon that senior BP attorneys repeatedly demanded the test results and samples of the cement used on the rig from Halliburton, but that they were not made available to BP investigators before publication of the company’s investigative report that bears Bly’s name. […]

Asked if BP and other investigative teams should have received those results, Bly said, “Yeah, I think people should share information that can help us learn about accidents.”

THIS is the brilliant, no-expense-spared legal strategy that BP has been warning Gulf oil disaster victims about? Look out, out-of-work fishermen – if you don’t take our lowball settlement, we’ll go on the witness stand and tell everyone how forehead-smackingly inadequate & lazy our own internal investigation was!

Legal experts are questioning the sanity of whoever at BP decided to go to trial:

Early witnesses have hammered BP for an “every dollar counts” culture that put profits over safety in the Gulf.

Legal experts familiar with the case expressed surprised that it ever got to trial, and said negative attention from the trial could hinder the company’s efforts to recover from the disaster. […]

A day or so more of this bloodbath and BP will get weak in the knees, raise its current $16 billion offer to $18 billion and settle with the U.S.,” [Loyola University College of Law professor Blaine] LeCesne said Wednesday.

As the National Wildlife Federation’s John Kostyack has laid out in detail, even that $18 billion figure could be much lower than BP’s true liability.

Did you expect BP, one of the world’s largest and most profitable corporations, to make better decisions? Why would BP start making good decisions now?

In the very first public relations class I ever took, we were given Tylenol’s response to the 1982 tampering attack as the best way to confront crisis. Put public safety first. Be completely honest and transparent. Do all that right, and winning back the public trust will be worth more than a $100 million ad campagin.

Instead, at literally every step of the way, BP has put profits over people and wildlife, rash action over data collection, and obstruction over transparency:

Even today, nearly three years after the start of the Gulf oil disaster, it’s clear BP has learned nothing from its many mistakes. It’s up to the Obama administration to hold BP fully accountable and send a message that grossly negligent destruction of America’s natural resources will be met with the harshest penalties possible.
Dozens of Gulf activists rally outside BP trial, February 2013

Take Action

Since the first days of the Gulf oil disaster, the National Wildlife Federation has been fighting for justice for the Gulf’s people and wildlife. “The Gulf of Mexico is more than just a place where oil companies make enormous profits—it’s a public jewel where our children swim, where wildlife live, and where we get the food we eat,” NWF President & CEO Larry Schweiger said this week.

Please take a moment right now to ask U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to hold BP fully accountable for the reckless damage it caused to the Gulf and the wildlife and communities that depend on it.