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BP Must Pay $500 Million in Fines

BP Must Pay $500 Million in Fines

Was BP's $8 billion alternative energy pledge just a preemptive PR strike?

October 26, 2007 —

When BP adopted a sunflower logo and started calling itself "Beyond Petroleum" in 1998, it marked one most laughable corporate re-branding schemes in history. Even Fortune magazine quipped: "If the world’s second largest oil company is beyond petroleum, FORTUNE is beyond words.” BP has since pledged $8 billion to alternative energy research in the next 10 years, but recent criminal fines totaling nearly $500 million dollars threaten to neutralize any positive publicity the announcement may have generated.

Specifically, the company has been found in violation of the Clean Air Act for its failure to make the required upgrades to prevent accidental releases of chemicals into the air. There are also the matters of a 2005 explosion in Texas City that killed 15 people, and a 200,000 gallon oil spill in in Alaska in 2006. And the company conspired to fix propane prices too.

BP realizes that it makes more immediate business sense to buy ads and change its logo than to actually take steps to become the "more ethical" oil company. Whatever that means. But if it were actually interested in becoming a better corporate citizen, not treating fines for oil spills, safety violations and price fixing as just the "cost of doing business" would be a start.

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