BP's Warning: Are there limits?
According to a recent New York Times story, BP has agreed to "set aside $20 billion over the next four years to pay damage claims and government penalties stemming from the April 20 explosion of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig." They have also agreed to contribute $100 million to support rig workers who have lost their jobs because of the deepwater drilling moratorium along with $500 million to study the impact of the spill. But BP executives have indicated that the ability to support these funds may be compromised if BP, who is the largest producer of oil and gas in the gulf, was barred from drilling in the Gulf.
BP executives are worried about a drilling overhaul bill, which includes an amendment that would preclude permits to drill on the Outer Continental Shelf for any company that has had more than 10 fatalities on its offshore or onshore facilities or if it had been received fines of $10 million or more under the Clean Air or Clean Water Acts within a seven-year period. Under those provisions, BP would be denied permits, resulting in loss of about a quarter of BPs total profits, which are estimated to be $20 to $28 billion annually.
Is it ethical for a BP to try to influence legislation in this way? Are there any ethical limits to the manner in which corporations can try to influence legislation? What do you think?