The Financial Times reports that negotiations between the federal government and BP to settle claims arising from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill are intensifying with the sides still $10 billion apart. BP reportedly is seeking a comprehensive settlement of all civil and criminal claims for $15 billion, while the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) is asking for $25 billion. Although BP has set aside $37.2 billion to cover liability from the spill, only $3.5 billion of that amount is to cover fines imposed by the government for violations of the Clean Water Act. Private plaintiffs have reached a settlement with BP, but the government actions are scheduled to go to trial on January 14, 2013. BP stock is still selling one third below the price it commanded prior to the spill. Guy Chazan & Ed Crooks, BP Seeks $15 Billion Spill Settlement, inancial Times, June 9, 2012, at 1.
Last Thursday the UN Environment Programme published its fifth edition of its Global Environmental Outlook (GEO-5), a report that is particularly timely given the upcoming Rio+20 Earth Summit. The report assessed the world’s progress in achieving 90 of its global environmental goals and found that significant progress had been made in pursuing only four of them. These four include: eliminating the production and use of substances that deplete the ozone layer, removal of lead from fuel, increasing access to improved water supplies and boosting research to reduce pollution of the marine environment. A copy of the UNEP report is available online at: http://www.unep.org/geo/pdfs/geo5/GEO5_report_full_en.pdf
The International Energy Agency (IEA) has published “Golden Rules for a Golden Age of Gas.” The report emphasizes that expanded production of natural gas from shale formations can provide significant environmental benefits when natural gas is substituted for dirtier fossil fuels. However, it also cautions that these benefits are only going to accrue if fracking is done in an environmentally responsible way. The report outlines best practices for conducting fracking operations in a manner designed to minimize environmental harm. The report is available online at: http://www.worldenergyoutlook.org/goldenrules/
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda has endorsed restarting two of the country’s nuclear reactors that have been shut down in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi disaster. All 50 of the country’s nuclear reactors are currently offline in the wake of the disaster. While intense public opposition has blocked restart of the reactors, fears of severe power shortages reportedly have convinced some governors to support the restart.
Last Tuesday night I joined the Board of Directors of the Environmental Law Institute for their annual pre-board meeting dinner. Board member Phyllis P. Harris gave a wonderful talk about the career path that led her to become Vice President for Environmental, Safety & Health Compliance at the Wal-Mart Corporation. On Tuesday June 12 I leave for Rio de Janeiro where I will be participating in a pre-Rio+20 program on January 16 at the Supreme Court of Rio de Janeiro.