Governor Jindal and his aide Garret Graves have completely misrepresented BP's record in the Gulf as well as the legal framework under which further funding related to the Deepwater Horizon accident would become available. Their political grandstanding contains patently false assertions, defies the demonstrated record of environmental recovery that has occurred across the Gulf, and defames the massive efforts of tens of thousands of people to foster prompt recovery and restoration. Not that BP or anyone else should be surprised – these recent comments are their latest in a series of over-the-top statements and overblown demands since the accident.
First, BP has to date spent more than $26 billion to help restore the Gulf. This amount includes more than $14 billion on the response and for clean-up, and more than $11 billion on over 300,000 claims paid to individuals, businesses and government entities.
Second, suggestions by Governor Jindal and Mr. Graves that BP is dragging its feet with respect to Clean Water Act and natural resource damages payments conveniently ignore that the law provides for these amounts to be determined through the judicial and regulatory process – to which BP is subject – not their own political whim.
The appropriate amount of any Clean Water Act penalties will be determined in the multi-district litigation in New Orleans. Any monies Louisiana might receive as a result will be apportioned accordingly.
Potential injuries to natural resources are being determined in the first instance through the Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) process and will later be subject to court determination as well. BP has already spent approximately $1 billion to support the NRDA, including more than $500 million paid directly to the Trustees. And, while this work continues, restoration has already begun.
Third, in 2011, BP voluntarily agreed to spend $1 billion on projects to expedite the restoration of natural resources in the Gulf of Mexico while the NRDA process was ongoing. As the federal and state natural resource Trustees declared in their press release announcing this cooperative program, this is “an unprecedented agreement” whereby BP is “providing the early restoration funds voluntarily, and is not required to do so at this stage of the damage assessment process. The agreement will speed needed resources to the Gulf in advance of the completion of the assessment process.”
To date, BP has reached agreement or agreements in principle with the Trustees on 38 projects representing approximately $665 million, including $370 million in Louisiana. Ten projects have been funded, but the remaining $594 million in projects cannot be funded until the Trustees complete the public comment and approval process. We are disappointed that while we reached agreement in principle for these projects in February 2013, little progress has been made since. In addition to these early restoration projects, at the urging of Governor Jindal and Mr. Graves, BP paid $260 million for Louisiana’s berm project notwithstanding that the staff of a presidentially-appointed Commission later found the political pet project to be flawed and ineffective.
Fourth, what the empty political rhetoric also ignores is that extraordinary progress has been made cleaning the Louisiana shoreline. Active clean-up activities are complete on 4,278 of the 4,376 miles in the area of response.
Fifth, statements by the Governor and Mr. Graves that BP has spent more on advertising than on restoration are simply false and seem purposefully intended to mislead the public.
Despite these facts, Mr. Graves has gone so far as to say we owe $130 billion in natural resource damages. Those demands are absurd and reflect wilful blindness as to the extent and effectiveness of our response. There is no denying that our extensive response efforts over the past three years were critical for reducing the environmental damage from the accident. While the NRD Assessment is still ongoing, the amount of damage and the required restoration will ultimately be decided in court, not by state officials.
There can be little doubt that Louisiana officials are aware of these facts. Yet they continue to raise unrealistic and unwarranted expectations about what their constituents and the State should expect, as they look to spend money they do not have.
And here is the final fact they ignore: No other company has done more in the wake of an environmental accident, and today, even in the face of this campaign of lies, we remain committed to paying all legitimate claims and helping restore the natural resources that were actually damaged from the oil spill.