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In the days following the Deepwater Horizon explosion, BP, aided and abetted by the Coast Guard, initially said there was no oil leaking. Later that was expanded to 1,000 barrels a day and then to 5.000 barrels a day. At the same time, BP execs like Tony Hayward and Dave Rainey were saying the effects of the spill would be “modest” and “minor,” and Hayward added that BP was “focused on doing everything in our power to stop the flow of oil, remove it from the surface and protect the shoreline.”

It turns out the only thing BP was doing “everything in their power” to stop the flow of in that early period was litigation. And what they sought to protect was not the shoreline, but the company from legal liability caused by that non-existent spill and the “minimal” damage it might have:

“In the immediate aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon disaster, BP publicly touted its expert oil clean-up response, but it quietly girded for a legal fight that could soon embroil hundreds of attorneys, span five states and last more than a decade.

BP swiftly signed up experts who otherwise would work for plaintiffs. It shopped for top-notch legal teams. It presented volunteers, fishermen and potential workers with waivers, hoping they would sign away some of their right to sue.

[…]

Robert J. McKee, an attorney with the Fort Lauderdale firm of Krupnick Campbell Malone, was surprised by how quickly BP hired scientists and laboratories specializing in the collection and analysis of air, sea, marsh and beach samples — evidence that’s crucial to proving damages in pollution cases.

Five days after the April 20 blowout, McKee said, he tried to hire a scientist who’s assisted him in an ongoing 16-year environmental lawsuit in Ecuador involving Dupont.

“It was too late. He’d already been hired by the other side,” McKee said.

Apparently, BP did have a working financial impact plan ready to be implemented on a moment’s notice, if not an environmental one. Priorities.

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