While President Obama’s call to hold BP accountable for the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico was tough talk, the devil is in the details and in this case, the details seem to be set up to limit BP’s liability in civil cases, while allowing the company plenty of wiggle room to avoid harsh penalties for its criminal behavior. Public Citizen President Robert Weissman and Tyson Slocum, director of our energy program, have an op-ed in Politico that urges President Obama to step up and fix the slew of problems with BP’s $20 billion fund to compensate victims of the tragedy.
Weissman and Slocum write:
BP has sought to maintain control over the crisis response at every stage. Though it seems to have spared no expense congratulating itself with TV advertisements about its good efforts and deep concern for the Gulf ecosystem and the people who rely on it, BP has bungled just about everything it has touched here.
Things improved only when the government insisted that it supervise what’s going on.
Now BP aims to control the terms of payout and penalty. Like everything that came before, this is a public problem. It demands engagement by the administration.
There’s no easy way to clean up the Gulf. But it’s easy enough to clean up the trust agreement mess.
It’s time for the administration to act.