It's time for the corporate 'Death Penalty'...
By Brad Friedman on 6/6/2010, 2:45pm PT  

Not satisfied with merely destroying the Gulf of Mexico, on Friday, BP reported the emission of more than 500,000 pounds of pollutants and non-pollutants in April and May at their refinery in Texas City, TX. The emissions included hundreds of thousands of pounds of deadly benzene, nitrogen oxides and carbon monoxide.

Via Think Progress:

While BP touts the mild success of its most recent attempt to contain the massive gusher spewing oil into the Gulf of Mexico, they would probably rather people don’t notice the other spill they recently caused, this one of deadly benzene from a refinery in Texas City, TX. The refinery released more than 400 pounds a day of the chemical over a 40-day period from early April to mid May of this year, BP quietly informed the state environmental regulator yesterday. Over that period, the refinery released 500,000 pounds of benzene and other toxic chemicals into the air, the Galveston Daily News reports [emphasis in original]:

Refinery spokesman Michael Marr said in its follow up reporting with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, BP estimated 36,000 pounds of nitrogen oxides and 17,000 pounds of benzene were released in the 40 days. State law requires 10 pounds or more of benzene and 200 pounds or more of nitrogen oxide during a 24-hour period must be reported through the commission’s air emissions database.

The bulk of the emissions during that time included an estimated 189,000 pounds of carbon monoxide and 61,000 pounds of propane, according to the company’s report to the TCEQ.

For the record, this is the same BP refinery where an explosion in 2005 killed 15 workers and injured more than 170 others. The company was forced to pay a meager $71 million in federal fines for that incident. It's as if the company has friends in high places, or something...

Incredibly, regulations on the local level for this type of "spill" seem to be far more stringent that at the federal level. As the Galveston Daily News notes, despite stricter state laws requiring the reporting of "10 pounds or more of benzene and 200 pounds or more of nitrogen oxide during a 24-hour period" to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), the D.C. Big Oil lobby seems to have had their way at the federal level:

[N]either of the levels of the emissions reached levels that required self-reporting to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Marr said. The EPA requires any nitrogen oxides release of more than 1,000 pounds a day be reported, while the federal agency does not require reports of benzene emissions.

Had enough yet?

Alaskan blogger Jeanne "Mudflats" Devon, who called our attention to this item via Twitter, calls for the "Corporate death penalty. NOW." in response.

While we are adamantly opposed to the regular Death Penalty --- in other words, actual murder sanctioned and carried out by Big Government --- if corporations are "people", as the Supreme Court recently re-affirmed in Citizens United, then they should have to pay the ultimate price for their continuing mass murder sprees. Big Government should force them to disband, or to be broken into tiny pieces and sold off to others.

Of course, "Corporate Personhood" is a complete and utter fiction to all but the Rightwing who hide behind it to make money and avoid personal accountability, and those on the Left who are too cowardly to do a damn thing about it, since their careers are also now held hostage to the solely-profit-driven whims of unlimited corporate free speech MONEY.

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