The BP Debacle and the U.S. Supreme Court

The infamous BP fire and spill.

The infamous BP fire and spill. Image source: USA TODAY

You might remember that oil spill caused by British Petroleum or BP four years ago. Now, the issue has finally been opened up once again.

BP asked Justice Antonin Scalia to have the company avoid making payments to other companies who have been affected by the said spill. This was after the New Orleans-based Court of Appeals lifted an injunction, preventing payments from being made.

BP’s lawyers asserted that if payments would not be blocked, awards worth hundreds of millions of dollars will be put to waste. I’m not quite sure what they meant by that, but I won’t really pretend to.

The Supreme Court responded that it won’t stop the claims payment, saying that those affected by the oil spill did not need to prove it.

So basically, courts are torn over this issue, but the final decision rested on the Supreme Court—as always. They say that BP paid over $12B to those affected by the spill, way more than the estimated $7.8B. I guess they didn’t really see that coming.

Apparently, BP would be at a disadvantage in this case, but let’s consider first some facts about the spill:

  • 200 million gallons of crude oil were pumped unto the Gulf of Mexico, making it the biggest oil spill in history
  • The oil rig explosion killed about 11 people and injured 17 more
  • 125 miles of the Louisiana coast have been polluted by the spill
  • About 8,000 animals were killed as a result of the catastrophic oil spill
  • The Gulf was still polluted with oil two years later

Perhaps the compensation for those who have been affected is a good measure? In that case, the Supreme Court shouldn’t allow the payments to stop. That’s simply my take on the issue. How about you? What do you think?


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