When BP spilled hundreds of millions of gallons of oil from one of its offshore drilling rigs, it caused one of the biggest environmental catastrophes in history. The spill killed or injured more than 25,000 dolphins and whales, 700,000 birds, and tens of thousands of sea turtles. [1]

Dolphins are still washing up dead on the Gulf Coast; hundreds of tar balls still dot the beaches; graveyards of tree root stumps mark the places where forests of mangroves used to grow before being choked out by oil; and fisherman continue to report dramatically lower catches. [2], [3] Five years later, a settlement has been reached requiring that BP pay $20.8 billion for the damage it caused. This fine is important in making BP answer for its wrongdoing, but the reality is that no amount of money can erase this tragedy and the long-lasting impact it’s had on the Gulf Coast.  

What’s worse is that $15.8 billion dollars of the $20.8 billion settlement can be written off because it is tax deductible. That’s right -- despite spilling hundreds of millions of gallons of oil, critically damaging the region’s wildlife and marine habitat, and scarring the region for years to come, BP has the ability to transfer the burden onto taxpayers. Despite all of this, BP has tried to deny the damage they’ve caused to the area claiming, “no, [we] didn’t ruin the Gulf” and that “most of the environmental impact was of short duration and in a limited geographic area.” [4] 

It’s bad enough that BP’s disaster devastated the Gulf Coast -- now they have the option of getting out of paying for the majority of the costs under the settlement.

Though no amount of money could undo the damage the oil spill caused, BP should at least be expected to pay the full price of the settlement. Join us in telling the Justice Department to not let BP pawn off this disaster onto taxpayers.

[1] “Deepwater Horizon: An Ongoing Environmental Disaster,” Environment America, 15 April 2015 

[2] Debbie Elliott, “5 Years After BP Oil Spill, Effects Linger And Recovery Is Slow,” NPR, 20 April 2015

[3] Maria Gallucci, “BP Oil Spill Has Lasting Economic Toll Five Years After Deepwater Horizon Explosion,” International Business Times, 16 April 2015

[4] Geoff Morrell, “No, BP Didn’t Ruin the Gulf,” Politico, 21 October 2014