By Brad Friedman on 5/11/2010, 2:47pm PT  

One item we weren't able to cover in today's Green News Report, but which should be noted here, comes from today's Washington Post...

On Monday, BP said it spent $350 million in the first 20 days of the spill response, about $17.5 million a day. It has paid 295 of the 4,700 claims received, for a total of $3.5 million. By contrast, in the first quarter of the year, the London-based oil giant's profits averaged $93 million a day.

So that means, as Think Progress notes, so far the clean up costs for BP have amounted to a little less than four days of profits for them. "At $93 million a day in profits, BP makes $350 million in about 3.8 days."

It seems that recklessness for the fossil fuel industry remains a very safe business model for the time being.

In 1990, following the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska, federal legislation was passed to make oil companies responsible for the cost of clean up from such disasters, and liable for up to (a paltry) $75 million in damages. While Congress is currently considering legislation to raise that cap from $75 million to $10 billion, there remains a question of whether or not such legislation would be retroactive to cover damages from the Gulf oil disaster or not.

If it does, as "the largest oil producer in the Gulf of Mexico," and one of "the world's five largest companies," according to WaPo, BP ought to be able to handle it.

Not that they ultimately will have to.

As both WaPo and TP remind us, thanks to a recent decision by the Bush Supreme Court, the "punitive damages against Exxon for the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil-tanker spill were originally set at $5 billion in 1994 but were reduced on appeal. The company agreed last year to pay less than $1 billion, including interest."

It's good to be king a corporate "person".

CORRECTION: Currently proposed federal legislation would raise the cap on damages to $10 billion, not $5 billion as we originally wrote above. The article has been edited to correct that error. By the way, even at $10 billion, says Daphne Wysham at Huffington Post today, the damage to property and to the fishing and tourism industries, as well as others, could eventually far exceed even that much. As Wysham notes in concurrence with the above: "Crime pays for BP."