We’re stunned. This settlement is pathetic. The $4 billion penalty is equivalent to just a fifth of the company’s 2011 profits.
The point of the criminal justice system is twofold: to punish and to deter. This does neither. It is a weak-tea punishment that provides zero deterrence to BP or other companies. Consider that after the 2005 Texas refinery explosion that killed 15 people, BP pleaded guilty to a criminal charge and paid a fine. Now, after a 2010 event that killed 11 people, BP is again pleading guilty and paying a fine. Zero deterrence.
Although the government is right to pursue manslaughter charges against two individuals BP employees, the settlement is inadequate to address BP’s repeated criminal conduct.
The government must impose more meaningful sanctions. Nothing in this settlement stops BP from continuing to get federal contracts and leases. BP will earn more in annual federal contracts than it will pay in penalties as a result of this. That’s appalling.