Four years ago, the Deepwater Horizon oil rig’s massive spill irreversibly changed the lives of many in the Gulf of Mexico — marine life and the surrounding communities alike. The day of, 11 rig workers died as millions of barrels of oil flooded the ocean. Since then, BP has spent more than $28 billion on cleanup and claims, pleading guilty to criminal charges along the way yet maintaining its position that Halliburton and Transocean, the rig operators, were primarily responsible for the accident.
This past Thursday, as presented in a report by the New York Times, a federal judge “for the first time bluntly rejected those arguments, finding that BP was indeed the primary culprit and that only it had acted with ‘conscious disregard of known risks.'” This newfound condemnation of gross negligence — an increased charge from its previous condemnation as mere “negligence” — could result in $18 billion of new civil penalties, almost quadruple the maximum Clean Water Act penalty for negligence and significantly more than the $3.5 billion the company had previously marked for penalties.