Environmental Law

BP Corner-Cutting Led to Gulf Oil Disaster, Says Ex-EPA Lawyer; PBS Program Tonight Details Claims

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A “corrupt culture” at BP concerning the oil giant’s compliance with safety regulations is responsible for the massive Gulf of Mexico oil spill earlier this year, a retired Environmental Protection Agency attorney claims in an article related to a documentary to be aired tonight on PBS’ Frontline.

Attorney Jeanne Pascal says she sought a job at the EPA in the early 1980s because she wanted to “make a difference.” Pascal was a seasoned pro working on BP matters in a supervisory capacity over the past 12 years or so. Nonetheless, she became increasingly frustrated with BP after concluding as early as 2004 that she couldn’t rely on the company to keep her informed and provide her with accurate information, ProPublica reports.

Although she made other efforts to pressure the company into complying with environmental and safety rules, however, Pascal never imposed the ultimate sanction—banning, or “debarring,” BP from continuing to do business with the government.

Now, however, “I have to conclude that BP has a corrupt culture,” Pascal tells ProPublica, following the April 20, 2010 oil spill disaster, “and had I arrived at that conclusion while I was handling the case I would have immediately debarred them. I would have just let the chips fall where they may.”

More information about tonight’s episode,”The Spill,” is on Frontline’s website.

Related prior coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “Report: BP Warned by Gov’t Agencies, Vinson & Elkins of Potential Issues at Multiple Sites”

ABAJournal.com: “BP Blames ‘Multiple Companies’ in New Report on Gulf Oil Disaster”

ABAJournal.com (Oct. 2009): “OSHA Hits BP Refinery With Monster $87.4M Fine; 15 Died in 2005 Explosion”

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