After a United States federal judge ruled that the 2010 oil spill was caused by the reckless and “egregious” behavior of oil company BP, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has filed an amicus brief in support of the criminal corporation, according to court documents.
“The way the Chamber has come to BP’s aid illustrates how out of touch it is with its constituency,” said Briar Barr, BP litigation attorney with the Levin, Papantonio law firm. “As the ruling says, BP was reckless and placed profits before safety, people and the environment, and the Chamber is siding with the large oil company over mom and pop businesses damaged by BP’s egregious conduct in the Gulf.”
According to the judge’s ruling, “BP Exploration & Production (BPXP) is subject to enhanced civil penalties under the Clean Water Act, as the discharge of oil was the result of BPXP’s gross negligence and BPXP’s willful misconduct.” The misconduct alludes to BP’s willful and blatant disregard of its consulting geologists by drilling faster than geologists could analyze the well’s data.
On April 9, 11 days before the initial blowout of the Gulf well, BP drilled 100 extra feet deeper, which experts said was “totally unsafe” and “one of the most dangerous things . . . ever seen.”
Several studies and investigations concluded that BP continued drilling despite the fact that the well was not properly secured with safe, preventative casings in a “decision that was primarily driven by a desire to save time and money, rather than ensuring that the well was secure.” As a result, millions of barrels of oil polluted the Gulf of Mexico, damaging surrounding ecosystems and killing countless amounts of marine life, not to mention the 11 workers who died because of the blowout.
BP also ignored pressure tests indicating that the well was unstable. Had BP heeded the warning and acted against its well-known criminal nature, “the blowout, explosion, fire, and oil spill would have been averted,” the court found.
Now that the court has presented its ruling, BP faces civil penalties possibly reaching the amount of $18 billion under the Clean Water Act. Of course, BP disagrees with the decision and said it will appeal the court’s decision, which now comes with the support of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Britannic Majesty’s Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
The U.K. Government and U.S. Chamber have filed “amicus curiae” briefs in support of the oil company in an effort to allow BP to avoid honoring the terms of a settlement agreement entered with businesses harmed by BP’s reckless conduct. Nevermind that BP co-authored the settlement agreement and fought for its approval in court. Now that BP is being forced to pay claims according to the court’s terms, BP wants the settlement agreement voided. So far, every court that has heard BP’s plea has rejected it. These “friend of the court” types of briefs are filed by parties uninvolved in the case but who believe they have a unique perspective that could assist the Court. Too bad these briefs read more as “friends of BP.”
What’s the interest?
The U.K.’s interest in the case is obvious. BP is a British company, one of the largest in the UK, which accounts for a large chunk of taxes to the British government. In any given year, BP pays about $1.6 billion to the British government in taxes. However, even if BP does pay out the $18 billion settlement, the company would still have to pay its taxes to the British government. So, there must be another reason why the British government wants to protect BP.
Much like here in America, big business has a stranglehold on the British government, dumping millions into favored political parties. In Britain, that party is the Conservative Party, or the Tories. The Tories are similar to the American Republicans as they have strong links to big corporations, namely fossil fuel corporations like BP. David Cameron, the British Prime Minister, is the leader of the Tory party.
Considering these connections, it’s all too clear why several members of the British government have an interest in this case. There’s also the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, whose desire to back BP is much more apparent.
The U.S. Chamber has backed BP, which is a member, several times and filed amicus briefs in support of the company in the past. Just in 2010, the Chamber committed some heinous acts to protect its friend, BP. In June 2010, the Chamber lobbied against overturning the Death on the High Seas Act, which limited “the ability of ship passengers (and the families of dead Deepwater Horizon workers) to sue for damages.”
That same month, the Chamber lobbied other attempts to protect BP, including a bill in the Louisiana legislature that would have streamlined the state’s attorney general to sue BP and pushed for an amendment that would have opened up a loophole to help derivative-using companies circumvent regulation.
The reason that the British government and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have come to BP’s aid is the same, single one: money. This is a profit-driven world where cash buys influence and gives a free pass for criminal acts to those who are wealthy enough. BP deserves to pay the entirety of that $18 billion. The company is a criminal organization run by corporate thugs, and they need to pay.