bp The environmental effects from the 2010 BP oil spill are going to continue to be felt for years to come. BP officials are responsible for gross negligence and willfully criminal misconduct (in many colorful contexts: from exposing troops to untreated waste water and telling them it was drinkable, to their role in covering up evidence in regard to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill) but where there should be heavy fines and life sentences levied, the corporation has thus far always gotten a legal slap on the wrist.

This, that there are two forms of “justice” in the US, depending on your net worth, has been continually reaffirmed in so many examples that I know wouldn’t where to start or end in listing them. Individuals receive longer prison sentences for possessing any of several natural plants, than men or corporations whose negligence has cost human, animal, and vegitative life. Endangering our collective survival is more legally tolerated than waving a pen at the police (which can get you shot, and the officers off scott free)

The disaster and resulting oil spill devastated marine and coastal environments, and is debatably the worst environmental disaster ever seen in the US (with Fukushima still working to outcompete it globally. The consequences for this disaster were essentially non-existent, and their choice to use Corexit (a highly toxic “dispersant” which makes the oil less visible from above) was allowed despite regulators giving them a voluntary suggestion to not use it. Not only did they use the highly toxic, environmentally damaging Corexit, they used about 2 million gallons of it on top of the roughly 5 million barrels of oil released into the Gulf of Mexico.

exaFormer Halliburton manager, Anthony Badalmenti, was sentenced Tuesday to one year probation for having been found guilty of destroying evidence in the aftermath of BP’s massive 2010 oil spill. Two BP employees had been indicted several years ago on manslaughter charges for their involvement in the disaster that left 11 workers dead. Along with other fines and charges laid, BP paid a US settlement worth $4.5 billion, which included $1.3 in criminal fines.

Badalamenti, along with his one year sentence, will be required to complete 100 hours of community service, and to pay a fine of $1000. Badalamenti was the cementing technology director for Halliburton Energy Services Inc., he was positioned as the cement contractor on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig. Prosecutors presented evidence that Badalamenti instructed two Halliburton employees to intentionally destroy data during a post-spill review of the cement job on BP’s blown-out Macondo well.

The judge said that the sentence of probation was very reasonable, and was clearly reassured that Badalamenti was already a rehabilitated man,

“I still feel that you’re a very honorable man,… I have no doubt that you’ve learned from this mistake.” – the judge stated.

Another engineer working for BP was also previously found by a federal jury in New Orleans guilty for having destroyed evidence about the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Kurt Mix was found to have deleted hundreds of text messages he sent and received from his supervisor and a contractor, in an effort to hide evidence that the company knew more oil was leaking than it had publicly revealed. Mix was found on one count of obstruction of justice, and acquitted on a second count involving a contractor, his final sentencing is scheduled for March 26.

A single year of probation and a $1000 fine is less punishment for helping conceal far-reaching crimes (which affect many species and generations) than the average cocaine user faces simply for possession. Some may celebrate that he was found guilty at all, but the precedent being set by such a light punishment is the opposite of what many feel we need: shouldn’t ecocide (and concealing the evidence thereof) be considered a real crime?