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Environmental groups target BP as second phase of oil spill trial begins
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Environmental groups target BP as second phase of oil spill trial begins

A variety of environmental groups are using the resumption Monday (Sept. 30) of the federal trial of BP and its drilling partners over liability for the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill as an opportunity to demand BP properly compensate the public for the oil spill's damage.

The four weeks of testimony beginning Monday will focus first on BP's efforts to stem the flow of oil from its Macondo well, and then on how much oil was released in the 87 days following the blowout that sparked a fire and explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizion oil rig, causing it to sink, killing 11 workers.

National Wildlife Federation:

"When the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded, BP had no clue how to get the well under control," said Larry Schweiger, president and chief executive of the National Wildlife Federation. "The result was that toxic crude oil gushed into the Gulf of Mexico for 87 days in a row. BP's oil still fouls our coastlines and poisons our waters. It will take decades for the Gulf to fully recover.

"We should be extremely skeptical of BP's current claims about the volume of oil released into the Gulf. Getting the estimate reduced may boost the company's bottom line, but it will hurt the prospects for restoration in the Gulf of Mexico," Schweiger said. "We need to hold BP fully accountable to send a clear message to every other oil company that this kind of negligence will simply not be tolerated."

Ocean Conservancy:

"Despite BP's best efforts to deflect attention from their role in the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history, I'm confident that every phase of the trial will show that this ongoing tragedy happened because of their careless actions and those of other responsible parties," said Bethany Kraft, Gulf restoration program director for the Ocean Conservancy. "It's time to dispense with the grandstanding and dig into the work of restoring the Gulf and the livelihoods of the people who depend on it."

Representatives of several environmental groups were demonstrating near the U.S. District Court at the corner of Poydras and Magazine streets on Monday morning.

Joint statement of the Environmental Defense Fund, National Audubon Society and National Wildlife Federation:

"Nearly three and a half years since the Deepwater Horizon rig explosion killed 11 men and caused the largest environmental disaster in U.S. history, the Gulf still waits for restoration," the statement said. "BP's misleading advertising campaigns omit truths and facts: Gulf Coast communities, wildlife and ecosystems are still harmed and need to be restored. Tar mats continue to surface, miles of Louisiana shoreline remain oiled and the full effects of the oil spill may not be known for years to come."

The statement points out that 80 percent of the civil fines paid by BP will be directed to Gulf restoration projects under the federal RESTORE Act, and pushed for much of that money to be spent in the Mississippi delta region of the coast.

"The Mississippi River Delta region was among the hardest hit by the oil disaster and is essential to regional and national economies, including navigation, energy and seafood," the statement said. "The delta is invaluable to our communities and our environment; it provides vital habitat for hundreds of species of wildlife and birds along the Mississippi and Central Flyways, world-class fresh- and saltwater fishing opportunities and a home to millions of Americans. The Mississippi River Delta is truly a national treasure and one of the most important areas in North America."

By Mark Schleifstein, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune 
Email the author | Follow on Twitter 
on September 30, 2013 at 8:35 AM

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