One year after BP's oil disaster, the companies involved in the Deepwater Horizon well seem to be doing fine. BP logged $5.6 billion in profits in the last quarter of 2010, up nearly a third from the year before. Transocean, which operated the rig itself, is the designated driller for four of the first 10 new permits issued by the federal government. Halliburton, which cemented the well that blew up, doubled its profits from the quarter before the disaster to this year, with a $511 million haul.
And yet. The New Orleans Times-Picayune uses the first anniversary of BP's disaster to call the company out for not paying to restore the local oyster beds. As the spill continued, Louisiana officials opened freshwater diversions to push the oil back and keep it from entering fragile wetlands. That decision likely spared large swathes of the ecosystem, but it hurt the saltwater oyster beds. BP now says that it shouldn't be responsible for fixing the oyster beds -- for buying new cultch for them -- because creating the diversions wasn't their choice. From the Times-Pic:
Louisiana is willing to let BP count any money spent on rebuilding oyster reefs toward mitigation rather than emergency cleanup costs, which means it won't add to the company's bottom line costs.
That makes BP's intransigence even harder to understand. Louisiana officials made decisions to protect the state's wetlands; BP is driven by a far different motivation, and the company shouldn't be allowed to call the shots.
BP says the oysters don't show evidence of being contaminated by oil, so this can't be their problem. On the other hand, as the Times-Pic points out, BP would have been dinged for the cost of wetlands destroyed if state officials hadn't kept the oil away. To fix the oyster beds, the state had wanted BP to chip in $15 million.