Sen. Carper Reacts to Justice Department's Suit against BP and Other Parties Financially Responsible for Gulf Oil Spill
Dec 15 2010
WASHINGTON – Today, Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management and a senior member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, released the following statement in response to today's decision by the U.S. Department of Justice to file suit against BP, MOEX, Anadarko and other parties financially responsible for the costs of the Gulf Coast oil spill. Sen. Carper's subcommittee has been investigating the costs of the spill, including the potential financial risk posed to taxpayers. As part of that investigation, Sen. Carper's subcommittee has heard testimony from all financially responsible parties:
"Today's announcement is a clear sign that the federal government is not going to be shy about ensuring that those responsible for one of the worst environmental disasters in our nation's history are held to account.
"From the very beginning, I've been concerned that, because of the mistakes and irresponsible actions of a few companies, all taxpayers would be left paying for the enormous costs of this spill. While BP has upheld its commitment to pay for all of the taxpayers' costs related to the spill thus far, the costs continue to mount and there is no legal requirement for BP to pay a dime beyond the first billion dollars of expenses associated with the spill. This is deeply concerning because we know full well that these costs will certainly exceed one billion dollars, ultimately costing many times that significant figure. In addition, there are other companies that are also responsible for these costs to taxpayers under the law but who have been receiving, and ignoring, multiple bills from the government for millions of dollars.
"Ultimately the courts will decide the case between the federal government and companies like BP, MOEX and Anadarko. In the mean time, I will continue to work with the Administration and my colleagues in Congress to make sure the American people aren't left holding the bag for this tragedy."
CEOs for Anadarko and MOEX first testified before Congress about their roles and responsibilities for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill at the invitation of Sen. Carper and his subcommittee. In addition, the federal government's invoices to the responsible parties for taxpayer costs related to the spill were first uncovered and released by the subcommittee. In May, Sen. Carper joined many of his Senate Environment and Public Works Committee colleagues in writing a letter to the Justice Department calling for an inquiry into legal actions similar to the ones taken today.
Full text of the letter follows:
May 17, 2010
The Honorable Eric Holder
United States Department of Justice
Robert F. Kennedy Building
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Room 5111
Washington, DC 20530-2000
Dear Attorney General Holder:
We are writing to ask that you open an inquiry into whether British Petroleum (BP) made false and misleading statements to the federal government regarding its ability to respond to oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico.
In the course of our oversight of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the Committee on Environment and Public Works has uncovered statements by BP, such as those described below.
In a document entitled, "Initial Exploration Plan Mississippi Canyon Block 252," which was prepared for and submitted to the Minerals Management Service and dated February 23, 2009, BP evaluated the potential environmental impacts and the ability to respond to a blowout resulting from an oil spill. Specifically, in describing impacts of its proposed oil and gas exploration activities on Essential Fish Habitat, BP stated:
"In the event of an unanticipated blowout resulting in an oil spill, it is unlikely to have an impact based on the industry wide standards for using proven equipment and technology for such responses, implementation of BP's Regional Oil Spill Response Plan which address available equipment and personnel, techniques for containment and recovery and removal of the oil spill."
In the wake of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, it does not in any way appear that there was "proven equipment and technology" to respond to the spill, which could have tragic consequences for local economies and the natural resources of the Gulf of Mexico. Much of the response and implementation of spill control technologies appears to be taking place on an ad hoc basis. In fact, BP released a statement on May 10, 2010, that stated:
"All of the techniques being attempted or evaluated to contain the flow of oil on the seabed involve significant uncertainties because they have not been tested in these conditions before."
I request that you review this matter with respect to civil and criminal laws related to false statements to the federal government, including 18 USC 1001, as well as any federal law or regulation that may have been violated in connection with issues surrounding the spill.
As our Committee's investigation continues, we will provide additional information to the Department of Justice.
Senator Barbara Boxer
Senator Ben Cardin
Senator Frank Lautenberg
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand
Senator Bernie Sanders
Senator Amy Klobuchar
Senator Tom CarperSenator Jeff Merkley