The BP Gulf of Mexico oil spill trial finally began yesterday after earlier settlement talks failed to produce a compromise, and today brings reports of witness testimony about the company “putting cost cuts over safety” and other familiar, defamatory refrains.
At the same time, settlement talks continue behind closed doors. As part of a “last minute” offer, the Department of Justice now says this whole ordeal could all end tomorrow if BP simply pays $16 billion to the feds and the five affected states.
BP should have no real interest in drawing this long, painful process out. The company has received more bad publicity than any other. It paid the highest fines in history. It’s been shamed (repeatedly) by the DOJ. The public has known about all those incriminating emails for some time. BP’s lawyers may negotiate a smaller settlement by spreading the blame to partners Halliburton and Transocean, but plenty of dirty laundry will be aired (again) in the meantime. So why doesn’t BP just accept the offer?
We can only think of two possible explanations: either the company’s executives feel like the damage has already been done or they’re a bunch of cheap, weaselly bastards.
We’ll go with “both.”