10-29-07 by Simpson
First BP tried to position itself as Beyond Petroleum, though Bumbling Petroleum is more accurate. Now with cold cash — just pocket change to the oil giant — BP is trying to put itself Beyond Problems. Last week BP agreed to pay $373 million in federal fines and restitution.
In the largest manipulation settlement in the history of the Commodities Futures Trading Commission BP is paying $303 million in fines and restitution for manipulating the price of propane in 2004.
It has agreed to pay $50 million, the largest criminal fine ever under the Clean Air Act, in connection with the deadly Texas City refinery explosion that killed 15 workers.
And to put the 2006 Alaskan oil spill behind it, the company will pay another $20 million.
The Wall Street Journal’s article about the settlement includes this comment from BP America Chairman and President Bob Malone:
"These agreements are an admission that, in these instances, our operations failed to meet our own standards and the requirements of the law. For that, we apologize. There is more to do and we are committed to doing it.”
What more really should happen is some BP executives ought to go to jail. Rep. John Dingell, Chairman of the House Committee has it exactly right. He said:
“With respect to the $50 million Clean Air Act penalty for failing to maintain safe operations of the Texas City refinery, I note with curiosity that when an average citizen commits a felony it usually leads to a prison sentence. Yet, apparently, when a big oil company commits a felony that causes 15 deaths, it pays a criminal penalty equal to less than a day’s corporate profits. Until the Department of Justice starts holding corporate executives accountable, I am not sure that there will be a meaningful shift in corporate culture.”