It has now been four years since the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded, killing 11 men and leaking an estimated 210 million gallons of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico. The media attention has disappeared, but the oil that continues to wash up along the Gulf Coast is a constant reminder to those who call this area home of BP’s toxic legacy.
In spite of the massive evidence of fraud and malfeasance on behalf of BP, Transocean, and Halliburton, only one set of criminal charges was filed in the four years since the disaster. Those charges were filed against BP engineer Kurt Mix, who has since been found guilty of obstruction of justice for deleting text messages about the true size of the oil leak. However, Mix has yet to be sentenced, and the judge is currently weighing a defense motion to dismiss the charges altogether.
The three companies involved — BP, Transocean, and Halliburton — have paid criminal fines for their actions, money that is supposed to go to states and individuals for the damage they suffered as a result of the spill. But thanks to the dirty tricks employed by BP, those payments have slowed to a trickle.
Late last year, as their fines and legal payments began to exceed their original expectations, BP launched a massive PR blitz to demonize “greedy” oil spill victims who were seeking compensation. The oil giant took out full-page ads in major newspapers like the Washington Post claiming that the spill claims process was riddled with fraud, and that the company was being raked over the coals by fraudulent payments. The company successfully managed to stall payments for a while, with a judge recently ordering the company to continue making payments.
But for all of their crying over allegedly unfair payments, BP has made out like a bandit in the years since the company destroyed the Gulf of Mexico. For starters, they avoided charges of manslaughter for criminal negligence that led to the death of the 11 rig workers. Since the spill, the company has pulled in a net income of $38 billion over the last three years, and was recently granted the ability to resume drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. For BP, everything has returned to normal.