BP and one of the US Gulf states most affected by pollution from the Deepwater Horizon blowout in 2010 have become embroiled in an acrimonious slanging match over the oil company’s cleanup record.
A senior BP executive has accused the leaders of Louisiana of “political grandstanding” and making “patently false assertions” about the environmental record of the group since the oil spill in 2010.
The move comes after BP failed again to convince a judge it could limit compensation payments on the grounds of fraud and remains mired in a criminal case with the US department of justice over Macondo.
Geoff Morrell, BP’s vice-president of US communications, specifically responding to comments made earlier by Bobby Jindal, the Louisiana governor, and his top coastal official, Garret Graves, at a meeting of the Gulf Coast restoration council, said: “Their political grandstanding contains patently false assertions, defies the demonstrated record of environmental recovery that has occurred across the Gulf, and defames the massive efforts of tens of thousands of people to foster prompt recovery and restoration.”
But the outburst, which compares with the relatively sober comments made by BP in the past, triggered an immediate response from Graves, showing neither side is in the mood for compromise.
“BP is not a victim of this disaster. No matter what they say or do, the families of the deceased and the citizens of the Gulf are the victims and we are going to fight to hold BP accountable for their actions. BP’s campaign to portray themselves as the victim is shameless,” said Graves in a response emailed to the Associated Press.
“For BP executives to try to call our concerns ‘grandstanding’ is laughable,” Graves said. “They caused the worst oil spill in our nation’s history, are doing the worst cleanup in our nation’s history and we should sit idle and let them continue?”
During the restoration council meeting, Jindal had said BP had focused too much on its image and needed to turn its attention to covering restoration costs. He argued the oil company needed to stop spending hundreds of millions of dollars on its public relations campaign “telling us how great they are and start proving it by addressing their Clean Water Act and Natural Resources Damage liabilities now”.
But Morrell said overall to date BP had spent more than $26bn (£16bn) on response, cleanup and claims adding: “Repeated assertions that we have spent more money on advertising than this are grossly in error and seem purposefully intended to mislead the public.”
This article originally appeared on guardian.co.uk