The financial penalties levied against BP for the Gulf oil disaster began as a landmark $4.5 billion settlement, topping the previous largest U.S. criminal penalty issued against Pfizer for marketing fraud. As the BP oil spill has continued to ravage the food chain and the environment, other rulings were added. The second ordered BP to pay $7.8 billion in payouts to businesses and tourist companies affected by the spill. The latter class action suit was signed off on by Judge Carl Barbier in a 125-page ruling. BP continues to face payouts from their $38 billion dollar allotment under SEC fines and fines under the Clean Water Act.
While these settlements are at least a record of BP's guilt, families who have lost loved ones realize all too well that none of it amounts to what was truly lost. To add insult to injury, BP is still in business; in fact, strong as ever. Just days after the EPA lifted their one-year ban, the company has been awarded 24 new contracts valued at more than $40 billion.