dolphin leaping

Visit St. Pete/ClearwaterWho’ll be watching out for the dolphins?

If BP let a bull loose in a China shop, the company would take umbrage at the usual “you break it, you bought it” policy.

The oil giant is refusing to pay for some of the ongoing research into the environmental effects of its 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, forcing the federal government to spend money on the needed science — money that had been earmarked for oil spill emergencies. The Financial Times reports:

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The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, a US government agency, wrote to BP last July seeking almost $148m to pay for “injury assessment and restoration planning activities”, including funding of $2.2m for research into the recovery of the coastal wetlands, more than $10m for dolphins and whales and $22m for oysters.

In October, BP replied to the NOAA request rejecting the majority of those requests, saying it was concerned over “the lack of visibility and accountability” in the process, and the unwillingness of the [Natural Resource Damage Assessment] trustees, which are US federal agencies and coastal state governments, to engage in technical discussions of the substantive issues.

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BP boasts that it has paid more than $1 billion for damage assessment so far, as if that were some kind of an altruistic act. The company claims that the government is withholding scientific data produced during the assessment from its attorneys — data it says would prove that its oil spill wasn’t really all that bad.

The Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, a Louisiana agency involved with some of the post-spill studies, says much more research is needed. “There has never been a spill like this one, the largest, most expensive and the longest active spill response, and a similar level of effort needs to be applied to assessment and restoration,” Kyle Graham, the authority’s executive director, told The Times-Picayune. “We are likely years away from being comfortable with the assessment.”

The fact that BP is having to pay out billions in compensation to Gulf area businesses allegedly hurt by the spill probably isn’t making the company feel more generous.