BP once again must appear in court today as the final phase of the BP trial begins in New Orleans. This is the third phase of a multiyear trial to determine how much BP and other responsible parties should pay for their role in the BP Deepwater Horizon oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. Just last Thursday, the Judge issued another ruling, finding that 3.19 million barrels of oil were released into the Gulf. This means that the maximum fine BP will face is $13.7 billion. This final phase of the trial will focus on eight factors, as required by the Clean Water Act, including BP’s history of prior violations and the seriousness of this violation.
The economic impact of the penalty on BP will be interesting to watch as well. The court will need to determine whether this inquiry focuses on BP (the parent company) as a whole or only on its subsidiary, BP Exploration & Production, known as BPXP. BP is expected to argue that the recent dip in oil prices should be factored into this inquiry. (This assertion, as you might expect, has been met with criticism.)
Over these past three months, my blog series has taken you around the world and into the lives of marine dependent communities at risk from ocean acidification. Hopefully this journey did for you what it did for me: showed how ocean acidification has the power to alter whole communities, and how these communities are in dire need of research, guidance and infrastructure to prepare for the challenges ahead.
It’s a brand new year and I wanted to take just a moment to acknowledge YOU and all you have done to keep our ocean healthy. Without you, Ocean Conservancy wouldn’t have achieved all that we did in 2013, from the International Coastal Cleanup to Arctic protection and restoration efforts in the Gulf of Mexico. We owe you an ocean of thanks for all you do.
You and I both know that our ocean faces increasing changes and pressures every day, from climate change and plastic pollution to fishing and increased oil and gas exploration. This year, Ocean Conservancy will tackle the most pressing issues to find new solutions for a changing ocean. I hope I can count on you to join me in these efforts.
Ocean Conservancy’s Dennis Takahashi-Kelso and Board Member Philippe Cousteau tour Bay Jimmy, LA. and the surrounding marsh affected by the BP Deepwater Horizon oil disaster.
This post originally appeared on CNN.com from Ocean Conservancy Board Member Philippe Cousteau. Explorer, social entrepreneur and environmental advocate, Philippe Cousteau is a special correspondent for CNN International. He is also the co-founder and president of the leading environmental education nonprofit EarthEcho International.
My grandfather Jacques Cousteau and my father Philippe dedicated their lives to revealing the ocean’s wonders and helping us understand our connection to this vast expanse of water. Their work inspired generations and filled people with awe.
Times have changed and so have circumstances and perceptions about the ocean. In recent years, the focus has been on the very serious challenges the ocean faces and the impact these challenges are already having on our daily lives.
An ocean sunfish, or mola mola. Credit: leonardo4it's flickr stream
TRUE: Electric eels are actually fish that breathe by gulping air from the surface.
TRUE: Some fish start their lives as males but grow into females.
FALSE: Despite their unusual shape, sunfish are some of the sea’s strongest swimmers
Sunfish, or molas, do not have a swim bladder and steer themselves by squirting a jet of water out of their mouth or gills. For this reason, sunfish maneuver poorly and are not strong swimmers. Have you ever seen a sunfish before? Where did you see it? And who’s surprised to learn that electric eels aren’t actually eels?