“In 2009, Louisiana punished oil companies for fewer than one in 100 spills, the data show,” according to this Bloomberg story. “Fines are measured in thousands of dollars, not millions. They take years to collect and are seldom levied against even repeat spillers. A small gas station operator was penalized for faulty paperwork while the state’s biggest oil producer paid no fines in more than a dozen spills since 2002, according to state records.”
There are complexities, to be sure. Overlapping state and federal agencies will always created more confusing than clarity. And the matter of intention–oil companies don’t PURPOSELY spill their precious gold–comes into play. But the quote says it all: “Lax enforcement leads to lax behavior.” Read the whole thing.
The story was written by Aaron Kuriloff, Charles R. Babcock and Ken Wells, all-around nice guy and author of the Meely LaBauve series, The Good Pirates of the Forgotten Bayous, and Travels With Barley (yes, a book about beer).