The Hocke Net
BP executives deserve jail time
December 17, 2012
explosion of the Macondo well beneath the Deepwater
Horizon in 2010 led to the worst oil spill in U.S. history. Yet
that’s nothing compared to the loss of 11 lives because of the accident. It
would pale in comparison to the loss of one life. Just ask the victims' families.
attorney Tim Akpinar details in his Legal Talk column in the forthcoming
January issue of WorkBoat, BP, which owned the well at the time of
the explosion, recently agreed to plead guilty to 11 counts of felony manslaughter, one count of
obstruction of Congress and violations of the Clean Water and Migratory Bird
acts as part of the Justice Department’s criminal case against the oil giant.
Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer said the explosion was a result of
“BP’s culture of privileging profit over prudence.”
of the supervisors on the Deepwater
Horizon that day in April 2010 — Robert M. Kaluza and Donald J. Vidrine —
were indicted on 23 counts of involuntary and Seaman’s manslaughter because, the Justice Department said, they ignored the warning signs of the blowout.
problem is that the Justice Department didn’t go far enough. Did the two
supervisors act according to “BP’s culture of privileging profit over
prudence?” If so, are we to believe that these two men are responsible for the
oil company’s culture? Hardly. Those responsible can be found in BP’s executive
suite and boardroom.
haven’t they been punished, too? After all, BP agreed, as part of its guilty
plea, to pay a record $4 billion in penalties and fines. That money is on top of the billions
the company has already spent cleaning up its mess. And there will be more fines
ahead. But what BP’s executives are sacrificing is the very thing they have the plenty of — money.
indeed, the Justice Department has proof that BP has a “culture of privileging
profit over prudence,” how will fining them change that culture, particularly when
the oil giant recorded a $25.7 billion profit in 2011?
who are responsible for that culture should be forced to put their freedom on
the line in addition to their company’s money. That’s the way to change the
culture and send a message to all the oil companies around the world that there
are some things you just can’t buy your way out of, because no one has been able to put a price on a single human life, much less 11 of them.