Stranger than Fiction: An 'Inside' Look at Environmental Liability and Defense Strategy in the Deepwater Horizon Aftermath

Washington Journal of Environmental Law & Policy, Vol. 1, No. 2, pp. 219-94 (2011)

University of Washington School of Law Research Paper

76 Pages Posted: 15 Jul 2014

See all articles by William H. Rodgers

William H. Rodgers

University of Washington - School of Law

Jason DeRosa

Independent

Sarah Reyneveld

University of Washington - School of Law

Date Written: December 1, 2011

Abstract

The Deepwater Horizon oil spill of April 20, 2010, initiated an environmental disaster that presented attorneys on both sides of the legal action with monumental challenges. Using the satirical format of a memo written by the corporate defense counsel to BP America four days after the spill began, this article investigates BP’s potential liability and strategic defense positions available in criminal and civil proceedings. Major federal environmental laws, including the Oil Pollution Act, the Clean Water Act and major wildlife protection statutes, are implicated by the Spill. The memo provides a clear picture of the existing opportunities for a responsible party to minimize liability in the face of incriminating evidence. This article argues that the successful use of legal precedents, tactical defenses and the enhanced role of the responsible party in response and restoration, will minimize BP America’s liability and civil and criminal penalties resulting from the Spill, to the detriment of the prevention of future environmental crimes.

Keywords: natural resource damages, environmental crimes, civil penalties, environmental cleanup, remediation, environmental law, oil pollution

Suggested Citation

Rodgers, William H. and DeRosa, Jason and Reyneveld, Sarah, Stranger than Fiction: An 'Inside' Look at Environmental Liability and Defense Strategy in the Deepwater Horizon Aftermath (December 1, 2011). Washington Journal of Environmental Law & Policy, Vol. 1, No. 2, pp. 219-94 (2011), University of Washington School of Law Research Paper, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2445755 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2445755

William H. Rodgers (Contact Author)

University of Washington - School of Law ( email )

4293 Memorial Way
353020
Seattle, WA 98195-3020
United States

HOME PAGE: https://www.law.washington.edu/directory/profile.aspx?ID=154

Jason DeRosa

Independent ( email )

Sarah Reyneveld

University of Washington - School of Law

William H. Gates Hall
Box 353020
Seattle, WA 98105-3020
United States

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