The state of Texas has sued BP and a number of other companies connected to the April 2012 Deepwater Horizon rig explosion. Texas asserts causes of action under a number of environmental laws for what the state calls the "worst environmental disaster" in the nation’s history.
The state seeks unspecified damages in the 44-page complaint filed on May 17 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas in Beaumont.
Tom Kelley, a spokesman for Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, says, "The damages in this case will be determined by a jury or through any settlement negotiations in the future."
The state alleges it filed the enforcement action for "economic damages, natural resource damages, declaratory judgment, penalties and costs."
"This is a case in which the Defendants engaged in willful and wanton misconduct and caused the worst environmental disaster in the history of the United States," the state alleges in the complaint.
The state alleges that, from the date of the explosion until the well was capped, "hundreds of millions of gallons of oil" were discharged into the Gulf of Mexico, including territorial waters of Texas.
The defendants in State of Texas v. BP Exploration & Production Inc., et al. are BP Exploration & Production Inc., BP America Production Co., BP plc, Transocean Ltd., Transocean Offshore Deepwater Drilling Inc., Transocean Deepwater Inc., Transocean Holdings LLC, Triton Asset Leasing GmbH, Halliburton Energy Services Inc., Halliburton Division Sperry Drilling Services; Anadarko Petroleum Corp. Co., and Anadarko E&P Co. LP.
Texas alleges in the complaint that the BP, Transocean (including affiliate Triton) and Halliburton defendants are "drilling defendants" because they were each involved in the "drilling, cementing, and/or other temporary well abandonment activities of the Deepwater Horizon, and thus their actions caused and/or contributed to the Spill." Texas alleges the Anadarko defendants are "non-operational leaseholders."
BP declines comment, according to a spokesman for Scott Dean, BP spokesman. Messages seeking comment from Transocean, Halliburton and Anadarko were not immediately returned.
Causes of Action
In the complaint, Texas brings several causes of action against the defendants: a declaratory judgment for liability under the federal Oil Pollution Act (OPA); damages under the OPA for natural resources, tax revenues and state park revenues; natural resource damages under §107 of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA) for the use of dispersants in the Gulf of Mexico; a declaratory judgment under CERCLA that the defendants are jointly and severally liable for response costs in connection with the Deepwater Horizon "incident"; economic and natural resource damages under the Oil Spill Prevention and Response Act of 1991 (OSPRA); cost recovery under the Texas Water Code; civil penalties under the OSPRA, and civil penalties under the Texas Water Code.
While the complaint does not put a dollar figure on the damages the state will seek from the defendants, the state alleges in the complaint that the defendants are liable for a total of $350,000 in damages to natural resources under OSPRA. The state also alleges in the complaint that the civil penalty under Chapter 26 of the Texas Water Code ranges from $50 to $25,000 a day.
According to the complaint, Texas filed the suit on behalf of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, the Texas General Land Office, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, and the Texas Natural Resource Damage Trustee.