A federal judge has agreed to a $4 billion plea deal by British Petroleum for the deaths and environmental damage as a result of the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The agreement, which is the largest criminal resolution in U.S. history, is said to be “just punishment” considering the 14 counts of criminal acts the company was facing for one of the nation’s worst environmental disasters.
After hearing testimonies from the relatives of all 11 crewmen who died in the oil rig explosion, U.S. District Judge Sarah Vance accepted BP’s offer and said “these men suffered a horrendous death,” and “I think BP should have done that out of basic humanity.”
The April 2010 oil spill released about 200 million gallons of crude into the Gulf of Mexico and was found to be caused by time-saving and cost-cutting decisions by BP and its partners on a drilling project. The multi-billion dollar oil and gas company also plead guilty to lying to Congress about the size of the spill.
For the settlement, BP has agreed to pay nearly $2.4 billion to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, $1.3 billion in fines to the government and $350 million to the National Academy of Sciences. A separate settlement is in the works for the Gulf Coast residents and businesses who lost significant amounts of money due to the disaster.
Is it fair for corporations to be able to negotiate their penalties opposed to going to trial?