British Petroleum, better known as BP, recently agreed to pay $18.7 billion to settle all civil claims relating to the biggest oil spill in U.S. history. Known as the Deepwater Horizon spill, the disaster was truly incredibly in scope and devastation. In addition to this $18.7 billion, BP has already paid roughly $14 billion to settle a variety of legal claims and issues related to the spill. They have also lost untold billions in revenue as a result of the disaster over the years.
This will likely be the most memorable oil spill for many generations, and it serves as an important reminder of how precious the environment really is. But in another way, the Deepwater Horizon spill also highlights how many other companies actually obey and comply with the environmental laws that apply to them.
Environmental law is a tricky area for larger companies, but many of them work within these complicated and ever-evolving rules to allow themselves to produce their product while also minimizing their environmental impact. Events with the breadth and depth of a Deepwater Horizon spill aren't going to happen often -- in fact, that spill was likely a once-in-a-lifetime disaster.
BP paid the price, and continues to pay the price, for that unfortunate moment in history, and rightfully so. But there are plenty of other companies out there that work hard to comply with the environmental laws that are imposed on them, and many more companies that continue to work towards reaching their environmental goals.
Source: Scientific American, "How BP's $18.7-Billion Oil Spill Settlement Could Help the Gulf of Mexico," Richard Monastersky, July 6, 2015