NEW ORLEANS (AP) — BP PLC says Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration has misrepresented its record in the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, including how much it has spent on cleanup.
Geoff Morrell, BP's vice president of U.S. communications, responded Thursday to comments made a day earlier by Jindal and his top coastal official, Garret Graves, during and after a meeting of the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council.
"Their political grandstanding contains patently false assertions, defies the demonstrated record of environmental recovery that has occurred across the Gulf, and defames the massive efforts of tens of thousands of people to foster prompt recovery and restoration," Morrell said.
In a response emailed to The Associated Press, Graves replied, "BP is not a victim of this disaster. No matter what they say or do, the families of the deceased and the citizens of the Gulf are the victims and we are going to fight to hold BP accountable for their actions. BP's campaign to portray themselves as the victim is shameless."
During the council meeting, Jindal said BP has focused too much on its image and needs to turn its attention to covering restoration costs.
"BP needs to stop spending hundreds of millions of dollars on their public relations campaign telling us how great they are and start proving it by addressing their Clean Water Act and Natural Resources Damage liabilities now," Jindal said. "While Transocean has stepped up to the plate and paid much of their liability, BP has not."
Morrell said overall to date, BP has spent more than $26 billion on response, cleanup and claims.
"Repeated assertions that we have spent more money on advertising than this are grossly in error and seem purposefully intended to mislead the public," he said.
Jindal praised Transocean Ltd. for pleading guilty to its role in the massive oil spill and agreeing to pay $1.4 billion in civil and criminal fines. BP, which has agreed to a record $4 billion in criminal fines, is in litigation over civil fines.
A blowout of BP's Macondo well in April 2010 triggered an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, which BP was leasing from Transocean. The explosion killed 11 workers and spawned the nation's worst offshore oil spill.
"For BP executives to try to call our concerns 'grandstanding' is laughable," Graves said. "They caused the worst oil spill in our nation's history, are doing the worst cleanup in our nation's history and we should sit idle and let them continue?
"Reports indicate that BP launched a half a billion dollar 'Make It Right' media campaign designed to improve their public image across the country while concurrently walking away from their responsibilities in the Gulf," Graves continued.