Representative Markey, who chairs the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming and the Energy and Environment Subcommittee in the Energy and Commerce Committee said, "Now we know what we always knew -- this spill is much larger than BP has claimed. What's clear is that BP has had an interest in low-balling the size of their accident, since every barrel spilled increases how much they could be fined by the government." Yesterday (May 26) Markey pressed this point with Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, citing documents he obtained from BP that showed BP knew as early as a week after the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon rig that the spill could have been much higher than their initial estimate of 1,000 barrels. Markey indicated that Secretary Salazar agreed with him that BP could have a financial interest in underestimating the size of the spill.
For BP, the difference between an estimate of 1,000 barrels per day and one of 14,000 barrels a day could really be the difference between $5 to $15 million per day in fines versus $14 to $42 million per day. That means, at the end of yesterday (May 26), the 37th day of the spill, the difference could potentially be between $37 million in fines or $1.5 billion in fines, according to BP's own estimates from the documents. According to the range reached by the technical group, BP could be subject to between $444 million and $2.1 billion in potential fines for the oil spilled thus far. Markey said, "BP has to stop protecting their liability and start dealing with the reality of the size of this spill. Knowing the size of the spill is vital to all facets of this spill, from response to recovery to accountability."