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Is BP Just a Drop in the Ocean? A Primer on Environmental Crimes and The Continuing Enforcement Trends
By Peter Crane Anderson
In every decade since the 1950s, certain names or images emerge that
symbolize a particular environmental crisis. Leaking buried drums at
Love Canal. A contaminated river catching fire (Cuyahoga River). Ominous
clouds rising above Three Mile Island. Oil-soaked Alaskan wildlife
coated with the contents of the Exxon Valdez. The list goes on. Apart
from capturing the emotions and sparking outrage among the American
public, these crises often spawn new and tougher environmental crimes or
bolster more aggressive prosecutions. The year 2010 is no exception.
This year the “poster child” of adverse environmental harm has been BP’s
Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, with constant video footage of
thousands of gallons of oil leaking a mile below the surface of the Gulf
of Mexico. Putting aside the ongoing debate, the total amount of crude
oil released during the nearly three-month leak has been estimated to be
at least 200 million gallons (between 50,000 to 60,000 barrels
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