We’ve written why expanding oil drilling won’t solve our energy problems but the April 20th explosion at a Transocean/BP operated Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico claimed the lives of 11 workers and is now leaking 5,000 barrels of oil every day into the gulf.

Transocean manages 141 other deepwater oil rigs around the globe, including 15 others in the Gulf of Mexico.  Back in 2008 we identified Transocean as one of the companies set to extract oil from the Gulf of Mexico and won’t pay any royalties to the US taxpayer, through its Challenger Minerals subsidiary.

BP is a London-based oil company with one of the worst safety records of any oil company operating in America. In just the last few years, BP has paid $485 million in fines and settlements to the US government for environmental crimes, willful neglect of worker safety rules, and penalties for manipulating energy markets.

In October 2009, BP paid the largest fine in OSHA history – $87.43 million – for willful negligence that led to the deaths of 15 workers in a March 2005 refinery explosion in Texas and an additional $50 million paid to the Department of Justice for the same incident. And just last month, BP paid $3 million fine to OSHA for 42 willful safety violations at one of its refineries in Ohio.

In March 2006, BPs neglect of one of its major oil pipelines in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska led to an oil leak that resulted in BP paying $20 million to settle allegations it violated the clean water act.

BP also was forced to pay $303 million to settle allegations it manipulated the US propane market, was fined $18 million for market manipulation during the California energy crisis and paid a separate $3 million settlement for similar market manipulation charges.

Tyson Slocum is the Director of Public Citizen’s Energy Program.

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