In a blog post for IntLawGrrls, Professor Rebecca Bratspies discusses the BP criminal settlement with the Department of Justice for the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico. BP will pay approximately $4.5 billion in fines and plead guilty to 14 criminal charges, including 12 felonies and 2 misdemeanors. “The criminal penalty assessed for the worst environmental disaster in the United States’ history did not even amount to one quarter’s profit for the main perpetrator,” writes Bratspies. “Whether one views the goal of criminal punishment as retribution or deterrence, it is difficult to see how the proposed plea deal and penalty accomplish the goal.”
Prof. Bratspies is the director of CUNY Law’s Center for Urban Environmental Reform. Her teaching and scholarly research focus on environmental and public international law, with a particular emphasis on how legal systems govern the global commons and how law can further sustainable development. She has published widely on the topics of environmental liability, regulatory uncertainty, regulation of international fisheries, and regulation of genetically modified food crops.