Transcript: Assistant AG Lanny Breuer’s remarks on BP’s guilty pleas to criminal charges from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill
Edited by Jenny Jiang
Transcript of Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer’s remarks on BP’s guilty pleas to criminal charges stemming from the Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill at a press conference in New Orleans on Nov. 15, 2012:
In April of 2010, the nation witnessed an unimaginable tragedy when the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico.
Eleven people onboard the rig died, and oil began at the point pouring out of the Macondo well and onto the sea floor for months, causing immense damage to the Gulf region and to our ecosystem.
Communities here in New Orleans and around the Gulf have waited patiently for justice to be done. Today, their wait is over.
The Deepwater Horizon Task Force filed a 14-count information and guilty plea agreement in New Orleans federal court earlier today.
The information charges BP Exploration and Production Inc. with 11 counts of felony manslaughter; violations of environmental laws, including the Clean Water Act and the Migratory Bird Act; and obstruction of Congress.
BP has agreed to plead guilty to each of these 14 counts and to pay the highest criminal fine in United States history.
Perhaps the greatest tragedy is that the deaths of the 11 men onboard the Deepwater Horizon could have been avoided.
The explosion of the rig was a disaster that resulted from BP’s culture of privileging profit over prudence.
And we allege that BP’s most senior decisionmakers onboard the Deepwater Horizon rig negligently caused the explosion.
We hope that today’s acknowledgement by BP of its misconduct – through its agreement to plead guilty to 11 counts of felony manslaughter – brings some measure of justice to the family members of the people who on the rig.
As the oil spill continued, BP made a tragic situation worse: It began misleading Congress and the American people about how much oil was pouring out of the Macondo well.
As BP now admits, in responding to Congress, the company lied and withheld documents in order to make it seem as though the oil that was spilling did less damage was being done to the environment than in fact was really occurring.
Acknowledging those lies, BP has agreed to plead guilty to felony obstruction of Congress.
Make no mistake: While the company is guilty, individuals committed these crimes.
And we have also unsealed today a 23-count indictment charging BP’s two highest-ranking supervisors aboard the Deepwater Horizon with manslaughter and violation of the Clean Water Act. The indictment charges these two BP well site leaders with negligence, and gross-negligence, on the evening of April 20, 2010.
In the face of glaring red flags indicating that the well was not secure, both men allegedly failed to take appropriate action to prevent the blowout.
A separate indictment was also unsealed today charging a former senior BP executive, David Rainey, with obstructing a congressional investigation and making false statements to law enforcement officials. The indictment alleges that Rainey, on behalf of BP, intentionally underestimated the amount of oil flowing from the Macondo well. Rainey allegedly cherry-picked pages from documents, withheld other documents altogether, and lied to Congress and others to make this spill appear less catastrophic than it was.
The Attorney General stood near here with other Department officials when he first opened this criminal investigation into this terrible oil spill and promised that we would thoroughly investigate and hold to account those responsible for this horrible tragedy. Today, we have begun doing exactly that. And tomorrow, and in the months to come, the Deepwater Horizon Task Force will continue to tireless pursue justice in this matter.
I would like to personally thank Task Force Director John Buretta, who has done an absolutely remarkable job in leading this investigation, as well as the many fine prosecutors from the Criminal Division, Environment and Natural Resources Division, the U.S. Attorney community, and the many talented federal and state law enforcement agents, who have worked so hard, for so long, to develop these cases. I would also like to thank our colleagues at the Securities and Exchange Commission for their important parallel investigation.
- Justice.gov: United States v. BP – guilty plea agreement (PDF)
- Justice.gov: United States v. BP – Information for Seaman’s manslaughter, Clean Water Act, Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and Obstruction of Congress (PDF)
- Justice.gov: United States v. Robert Kaluza and Donald Vidrine – criminal indictment (PDF)
- Justice.gov: United States v. David Rainey – criminal indictment (PDF)
- SEC.gov: Securities and Exchange Commission v. BP complaint (PDF)
- WhatTheFolly.com: Transcript: Attorney General Eric Holder’s remarks on BP’s guilty pleas to criminal charges from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill
- WhatTheFolly.com: Transcript: Assistant AG Lanny Breuer’s remarks on BP’s guilty pleas to criminal charges from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill
- WhatTheFolly.com: Transcript: SEC Enforcement Director Robert Khuzami’s remarks on BP’s $525 million penalty to settle securities fraud related to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill
- WhatTheFolly.com: Transcript: Press conference Q&A on BP’s guilty pleas to criminal charges from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill
- Justice.gov: BP Exploration and Production Inc. Agrees to Plead Guilty to Felony Manslaughter, Environmental Crimes and Obstruction of Congress Surrounding Deepwater Horizon Incident
- Justice.gov: Attorney General Eric Holder Speaks at the BP Press Conference
- Justice.gov: Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer Speaks at the BP Press Conference
- BP.com: BP Announces Resolution of All Criminal and Securities Claims by U.S. Government Against Company Relating to Deepwater Horizon Accident
- BP.com: Statement About Proposed Resolutions of US Federal Government Criminal and SEC Claims Against BP in Connection with the Deepwater Horizon Incident
- SEC.gov: Remarks During News Conference About Enforcement Actions Against BP
- SEC.gov: BP to Pay $525 Million Penalty to Settle SEC Charges of Securities Fraud During Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill
- WhatTheFolly.com: Former BP engineer charged in Deepwater Horizon cover-up