BP, serial criminal and multiply convicted felon, pled guilty last week to felonies arising out of the Deepwater Horizon Gulf of Mexico disaster. It agreed to pay a $1.25 billion fine and criminal compensatory damages amounting to another $4 billion. If you have a strong stomach, you can read the plea deal and BP’s admissions here.
Of course, this is hardly BP’s first criminal offense. In fact, the company has a rap sheet that would be the envy of any inner-city gang-banger. Here are just a few of the recent blots on BP’s royal escutcheon:
- March 2005 – BP pled guilty to a felony in connection with an explosion at BP’s Texas City refinery, which claimed the lives of 15 employees and injured 170 others.
- August 2006 – BP pled guilty to a criminal misdemeanor for two oil spills here in Alaska due to a severely corroded pipelines on which BP failed to perform maintenance.
- August 2006 – BP entered a deferred prosecution agreement related to price fixing scheme involving propane trading.
- According to the Center for Public Integrity, for the period 2007-2010, BP refineries in Ohio and Texas have accounted for 97 percent of the “egregious, willful” violations handed out by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
Now if you think these are somehow just aberrations in the conduct of an otherwise reasonable corporation, consider this report form the New York Times:
Before the accident in Texas City, BP had declined to spend $150,000 to fix a part of the system that allowed gasoline to spew into the air and blow up. Documents show that the company had calculated the cost of a human life to be $10 million. Shortly before that disaster, a senior plant manager warned BP’s London headquarters that the plant was unsafe and a disaster was imminent. A report from early 2005 predicted that BP’s refinery would kill someone “within the next 12 to 18 months” unless the company changed its practices.
The arithmetic of corporate profits dictated BP’s risk calculus. Not the regard for safety. Not a decent respect for human live. Not the danger of conviction for homicide. It’s no different than burglars betting they won’t get caught. Except burglars rarely kill dozens of people.
This is just a small part of BP’s long history of criminal convictions. If you doubt WC’s word, see the Corporate Research Report’s article from January 19, 2013 for still more.
Sure, after each criminal conviction BP has pledged to reform, to institute a “new culture,” to make safety “job one.” But BP’s credibility at this point is effectively zero.
So can someone explain, please, why Captain Zero and the Alaska Legislature feel so compelled to give this thuggish multi-national a gigantic tax break?
What’s next? Double Permanent Fund dividends for serial rapists? Worker’s compensation coverage for burglars? Bonus checks for embezzlers?
Why are we rewarding felons?