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Forget the Spin: BP Is Legally Bound to do No More for the Gulf than the Law Requires

In the aftermath of the Horizon explosion, survivors were held in what was effectively solitary confinement, cut off from the world, while BP flacks "coerced" them to waive their right to sue. Then the firm announced that regardless of the fact that its liability is capped at $75 million (plus the actual costs of the clean-up), it would pay all "legitimate claims." During recent weeks, BP refused to let independent experts evaluate the damaged wellhead to ascertain how much oil is really flowing into the Gulf. And BP personnel, accompanied by the Coast Guard, threatened "unembedded" journalists who were trying to see for themselves how much damage is being done to the Gulf Coast with arrest if they didn't immediately leave the area. Today they're all about getting the best information about the spill:
BP announced today that it will spend up to $500 million on an "open research program" to study the impact of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and the response to the spill on the marine and shoreline environment of the Gulf of Mexico. "BP has made a commitment to doing everything we can to lessen the impact of this tragic incident on the people and environment of the Gulf Coast," said Tony Hayward, BP's chief executive, in a statement released this morning.
Rand Paul told George Stephanopoulos: "I’ve heard nothing from BP about not paying for the spill." Paul apparently  doesn't understand the concept of "fiduciary duty." The board of BP has a responsibility to BP's shareholders -- it must, by law, prioritize their profits over anything else. If they were to decide to do "the right thing" by the Gulf, they'd open themselves up to shareholder litigation. BP will not do anything more than it must. It won't pay a penny more than the law requires, and it will pull all possible levers to try to assure that the law doesn't require too much of it. That's a sure hing -- something you can take to the bank.