Civil liability is not the only concern of BP, Transocean and Haliburton, the three companies involved in a Gulf drilling accident that has to date spilled some 4 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. McClatchy Newspapers is reporting the Justice Department may soon get involved in filing criminal charges against the culpable parties. Charges could be filed under a number of environmental laws, including the Clean Air and Water Acts. McClatchy reports:
"There is no question there'll be an enforcement action," said David M. Uhlmann, who headed the Justice Department's environmental crimes section for seven years during the Clinton and Bush administrations. "And, it's very likely that there will be at least some criminal charges brought."
Such a likelihood has broad legal implications for BP and the two other companies involved — not the least of which is the amount of money any responsible party could be required to pay. The White House is asking Congress to lift the current $75 million cap on liability under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, but there's no cap on criminal penalties. In fact, prosecutors in such cases can seek twice the cost of environmental and economic damages resulting from the spill.
While Attorney General Eric Holder has confirmed that Justice Department lawyers are helping the agencies involved in the oil spill inquiry with legal questions, department officials have refused to detail what their role entails. But Uhlmann and other experts said it's likely prosecutors are already poring over evidence from the spill because under the Clean Water and Air Acts and other federal laws aimed at protecting migratory birds, an accidental oil spill of this magnitude could at least result in misdemeanor negligence charges.
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DEC 11 It's the holiday season, and that means you can count on seeing some pretty crazy stuff going down at the Wal-Mart, but this story out of Marshall, Texas takes the cake. A man went in and attacked a couple of people with a hatchet. Who stopped him? A customer who started launching soup cans at him -- and connected with his noggin. The story tells us that while some folk were injured, everyone's been released from the hospital.
DEC 11 Blogger Tom Aswell joins the ranks of those looking into the "Fund for Louisiana's Future," which of course is not really aimed at improving our future. So far, it seems aimed at getting Louisiana to remove its $100,000 cap on campaign contributions, he tells us. Also, it is overseen by the same guy who tried to give us President Mitt Romney -- and he seems bent on picking our next governor.
DEC 11 Here's a post on NOLA Defender from the chef de cuisine at Delmonico's about gumbo. Chef Anthony Scanio shares childhood food memories that aren't quite a warm and fuzzy cliche -- but they certainly sound authentic. His personal story isn't just about food, it's a true New Orleans boy's upbringing. It's a cool story, and it ends with recipes for seafood gumbo and red beans.
DEC 11 Blogger Lou Gehrig Burnett writes here on Bayou Buzz about GOP efforts to mount a candidate against Sen. Mary Landrieu -- "a" being the operative word. So far, Bill Cassidy and Rob Maness are both in the race, and as long as the ultra-conservative Maness remains he poses a threat to the Republicans' hopes to unseat Mary. There's also a bit on what's up in Texas -- where Gov. Rick Perry's rejection of Medicaid money is causing other lawmakers some trouble.
DEC 11 Qualifying for New Orleans municipal races opens today, and Gambit's Clancy DuBos is most interested in people running against Sheriff Marlin Gusman, a frequent topic of Clancy's posts -- and a lot of other media posts as well. So far, the most interesting candidate expected to qualify is former sheriff Charles Foti. But Gusman's biggest enemy may be himself, given his 33 percent approval rating.
DEC 11 It may be the season of brotherly love, but John Maginnis is not falling for David Vitter's Christmas story. In this post, he poo-poos the very idea that Vitter and his family will spend the holidays in prayerful reflection so that they can decide if the Senator will run for governor. He also gives some predictions on what could happen if Vitter did get elected, throwing in a cautionary reference to the big ole egg laid by the GOP up in North Louisiana's recent Congressional race.
DEC 11 Well, knock us over with a rainbow-colored feather. The Shreveport City Council passed an ordinance granting equal protection to LGBT folks, this KSLA story reports. It basically forbids discrimination against people based on their sexual orientation. According to the story, city workers already have had that protection, since 2009.
DEC 11 That nice lady over in Denham Springs must still be mad at her neighbors for stealing her dog, because she's back up on her roof, making a big ole "one finger salute" in Christmas lights. This story in the Advocate even gives us a picture of the process underway, in case you are experiencing a similar situation and would like some finger-display-creation tips.
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