AG Abbott's Quick BP Defense Will Backfire

07/03/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott announced today at a press conference that BP has made "all the right actions and all the right comments" but that the Attorney General's office would be watching to "ensure that BP's action lives up to its current words." Governor Rick Perry was quoted as saying of the oil spill: "From time to time there are going to be things that occur that are acts of God that cannot be prevented."

Our state's chief executives are tripping over themselves rationalizing BP's actions. The jury is out on whether BP has taken 'all the right actions,' as Mr. Abbott claims. BP certainly has not been accurate in its statements.

Here are contemporaneous statements by BP quickly proven inaccurate on its work "to be carried out to permanently seal the well" and confident statements about dealing with the spill offshore. On April 25, 2010 BP announced: "BP is preparing to drill relief wells to permanently secure the well. The drilling rig Development Driller III is moving into position to drill a second well to intercept the Macondo well and inject a specialized heavy fluid to securely prevent flow of oil or gas and allow work to be carried out to permanently seal the well." On April 25, 2010 BP Group Chief Executive Tony Hayward announced: "given the current conditions and the massive size of our response, we are confident in our ability to tackle this spill offshore." And, in an extraordinary statement of confidence, Mr. Hayward continued on April 26, 2010: "the improved weather has created better conditions for our response. This, combined with the light, thin oil we are dealing with, has further increased our confidence that we can tackle this spill offshore."

According to an Associated Press report on Saturday, May 1, 2010, "In an exploration plan and environmental impact analysis filed with the federal government in February 2009, BP said it had the capability to handle a 'worst-case scenario' at the Deepwater Horizon site, which the document described as a leak of 162,000 barrels per day from an uncontrolled blowout - 6.8 million gallons each day." The Coast Guard has estimated total leakage so far at 1.6 million gallons.

BP was wrong in its environmental impact claims that it could handle a spill even larger than what's occurring. It's bad lawyering for Texas' chief legal officer to claim that BP made 'all the right actions and all the right comments'. Texans can expect that incorrect statement to appear in the defense of BP in future litigation.