There are reports that BP is burning endangered sea turtles alive while burning oil in the Gulf, in spite of efforts of those working to rescue the turtles. Turtles and other wildlife are getting caught in the booms and skimmers and then burned with the contents.
This video explains what is happening:
According to an NPR interview with Dr. Brian Stacy, veterinarian with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, there are â€œFive types of extremely rare or endangered sea turtles [that] live in the Gulf, but the majority of the more than 300 turtles found dead or covered in oil since the BP well exploded have been Kemp's Ridleys, the rarest of them all.â€œ
The Kempâ€™s Ridley sea turtles are designated under the Endangered Species Act as
Endangered. Harming or killing Endangered Species Act animals carries stiff fines and civil penalties ($500-$25,000) assessed for each violation. Criminal penalties include possible prison time and fines from $25,000-$50,000.
When you consider all of the endangered turtles that have been killed either by the oil itself or being burned alive in the oil, somebody needs to pay for it. If you or I violated the Endangered Species Act, you can be darn sure we would not get away with it. Here we have a corporation (BP) trampling all over it and apparently getting away with it. Is anyone going to do anything about it?
According to the NPR interview referenced above, the bodies of dead turtles are being kept as evidence against BP to determine the final government bill. What about the bodies of those turtles being burned? Is BP destroying evidence to keep their liability down? Is anyone going to stop them?
The Endangered Species Act â€œSection 11- Penalties and Enforcementâ€ states that citizens can bring â€œCitizen Suits,â€ â€œto enjoin any person, including the United States and any other governmental instrumentality or agency (to the extent permitted by the eleventh amendment to the Constitution), who is alleged to be in violation of any provision of this Act or regulation issued under the authority thereof.â€ Perhaps we need to get together and file suit to stop BP from actively killing endangered turtles and destroying the evidence.
If nothing else the money gained could go toward the rescue and rehabilitation of the wildlife in the region, in keeping with Section 11(d)(2), which states that fines would be applied to â€œthe reasonable and necessary costs incurred by any person in providing temporary care for any fish, wildlife, or plant pending the disposition of any civil or criminal proceeding alleging a violation of this chapter with respect to that fish, wildlife, or plant.â€
It also says, in section 11(d)(1) that there is a reward to anyone â€œwho furnishes information which leads to an arrest, a criminal conviction, civil penalty assessment, or forfeiture of property for any violation of this chapter or any regulation issued hereunder.â€ Though I would hope that whoever finally has the nerve to file something lets any reward received go to the wildlife rescue efforts.
The complete â€œEndangered Species Act â€“ Section 11 Penalties and Enforcementâ€ can be found in PDF format here.