Washington, D.C.– In light of oil giant BP’s new claim that it will not make full restitution to Gulf workers hurt by April’s Deepwater Horizon disaster unless Congress agrees not to further regulate deepwater drilling, Rep. Raul M. Grijalva today said the company “is now openly blackmailing the American government and should be held responsible not just for the damage it caused, but for its consistently indifferent attitude to that damage.”
According to a Sept. 2 article in the New York Times, the company “is warning Congress that if lawmakers pass legislation that bars the company from getting new offshore drilling permits, it may not have the money to pay for all the damages caused by its oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.”
According to BP’s last publicly available quarterly statement, made June 30, the company’s total assets including long term investments stand at approximately $248.6 billion.
The story notes that the company has made a handful of voluntary contributions to local recovery efforts, which Grijalva noted “have not come close to meeting the scope of the original catastrophe” because hundreds of thousands of Gulf residents were put out of work.
Now BP, according to the Times article, “appears to be using such voluntary payments as a bargaining chip with American lawmakers.”
As the article points out, “BP is particularly concerned about a drilling overhaul bill passed by the House on July 30. The bill includes an amendment that would bar any company from receiving permits to drill on the Outer Continental Shelf if more than 10 fatalities had occurred at its offshore or onshore facilities. It would also bar permits if the company had been penalized with fines of $10 million or more under the Clean Air or Clean Water Acts within a seven-year period. While BP is not mentioned by name in the legislation, it is the only company that currently meets that description.”
Grijalva said the bill in question — the Consolidated Land, Energy, and Aquatic Resources (CLEAR) Act — “is far from the job-killer BP is pretending it is. The bill is necessary to make sure people working in the industry aren’t sitting on powder kegs like the two that have already gone off in the Gulf so far this year. If anything, the oil industry should be applauding Congress for trying to save it from itself rather than pretending its hands are clean in this mess.”
Considering BP’s resources, Grijalva said, “telling the American people it directly put out of work, ‘Sorry, we can’t help you unless Congress gives us our way’ isn’t just insulting — it’s truly unconscionable. Gulf residents have been digging deep thanks to BP’s destruction of their livelihoods. BP should dig just as deep now to make things right. Posing and making threats instead of taking its responsibilities seriously is not what the situation calls for, and I from the bottom of my heart urge BP to fix the Gulf and move on instead of turning this into any more of a circus.