Where BP goes, Michigan follows?

4 Aug 2010

Getty Images: Bill Pugliano

Well, the fallout from the BP spill is starting to occur and it certainly gives one an indication where the Marshall Kalamazoo River spill is likely headed – the Courts.  Reportedly:

  • The American Welfare Institute and other other groups filed suit against BP alleging violations of the Endangered Species Act and have already settled the case -focusing in part on narrowly tailoring BP’s so-called controlled burns of the oil to prevent harm to wildlife;
  • A condo owner in Florida filed a class action lawsuit against BP alleging rackerteering, mail and wire fraud arising out of BP’s permitting for the oil well in the Gulf of Mexico;
  • The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals has rejected the federal government’s hastily constructed 6 month moratorium on deepwater oil drilling;
  • A class action suit has been filed against BP and its suppliers alleging deleterious effects from the use of a specific dispersant (arguing that it is four times more toxic than the oil itself);
  • The Center for Biological Diversity has filed suit against BP and Transocean, Ltd., under the Clean Water Act seeking a penalty of $4,300 per barrel spilled which could be roughly $19 billion dollars!  The suit also seeks an injunction compelling restoration; and
  • Legislation has been introduced to retroactively lift the cap on oil company liability from $75 Million to $10 Billion as well as removing the $500 Million cap on liability for damage to natural resources.

I know there have been a lot of jokes at  BP’s expense but I suspect that management feels like their logo has been changed to a bullseye, smack on their backs.  In the meantime, the spill appears to be a full employment program for both environmental cleanup companies and lawyers.  One suspects the Enbridge folks are wishing for an ounce of prevention because the pound of cure is coming fast and it’s going to be unpleasant.

Enbridge has made promises to buy homes within 200 feet of the River and within the “red zone” at listed or appraised values and has stated that lawsuits need not be filed;  so far two class actions have reportedly already been  filed.

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