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NATIONAL
April 25, 2012 | By Richard Fausset and Molly Hennessy-Fiske, Los Angeles Times
HOUSTON — The Justice Department on Tuesday unveiled the first criminal charges in its investigation of the 2010 BP oil spill: two counts of obstruction of justice filed against a former BP engineer accused of destroying records describing the rate at which oil was flowing from the broken well at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico. The engineer, Kurt Mix, was involved in efforts to plug the well as well as internal BP efforts to estimate the amount of oil leaking from it in the first months after the spill.
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NATIONAL
April 24, 2012 | By Molly Hennessy-Fiske and Neela Banerjee
HOUSTON - A former BP engineer appeared in federal court Tuesday chained at the wrist and ankles to face criminal charges that he intentionally deleted hundreds of text messages about the amount of oil flowing into the Gulf of Mexico from the company's blown-out well in 2010. Kurt Mix, 50, of Katy, Texas, was charged with two counts of obstruction of justice and released on a $100,000 bond. U.S. Magistrate Stephen Smith asked Mix whether he understood the charges against him and the possible penalties if convicted - a 20-year sentence and $250,000 fine on each count.
NATIONAL
April 24, 2012 | By Neela Banerjee
WASHINGTON -- In the first criminal charges to emerge from the federal probe of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, a former engineer for BP was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of intentionally destroying evidence requested by federal authorities who were investigating the April 2010 explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil platform. Kurt Mix, 50, of Katy, Texas, was charged with two counts of obstruction of justice in a criminal complaint filed in the U.S. District Court's Eastern District of Louisiana and unsealed Tuesday.
NATIONAL
February 26, 2012 | By Richard Fausset
The massive civil lawsuit stemming from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, originally scheduled to go to trial Monday in New Orleans, has been postponed for one week to give oil giant BP and lawyers for more than 120,000 plaintiffs time to continue settlement talks. The postponement of the start of the trial to March 5 was announced in a joint statement Sunday from BP, which was in charge of the drilling project, and the group of plaintiffs' attorneys known as the Plaintiffs' Steering Committee, or PSC. "BP and the PSC are working to reach agreement to fairly compensate people and businesses affected by the Deepwater Horizon accident and oil spill," the statement read.
NATIONAL
February 22, 2012 | By Richard Fausset, Los Angeles Times
Spill 4.9 million barrels of oil into the ocean, and this is what you get: the lollapalooza, labyrinthine, mega-mother of all lawsuits. It encompasses 72 million pages of documents, 20,000 exhibits and 303 depositions — the collective effort of hundreds of lawyers and legal workers. It involves the Justice Department and about 120,000 plaintiffs: angry fishermen, restaurateurs, state governments and condo owners who say their beach-side property is not worth what it once was. The trial phase, set to begin Feb. 27 in a New Orleans federal courtroom, could go on for nine months.
NATIONAL
February 17, 2012 | By Neela Banerjee, Washington Bureau
A minority investor in the failed Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico has agreed to pay $90 million in civil penalties and other fees related to the 2010 oil spill, the first settlement before an upcoming major trial linked to the disaster. The Obama administration touted the settlement with MOEX Offshore 2007, a subsidiary of the Japanese firm Mitsui & Co., as the largest penalty ever paid for violating the Clean Water Act. "This landmark settlement is an important step - but only a first step - toward achieving accountability and protecting the future of the gulf ecosystem by funding critical habitat preservation projects," Atty.
BUSINESS
January 14, 2012 | By Jim Puzzanghera, Los Angeles Times
Toyota Motor Corp. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. were among the biggest gainers in brand image last year after a rough 2010 that saw each of them enmeshed in controversy, according to rankings by online market research firm, YouGov. Toyota's image had been pummeled in 2010 from more than 13 million product recalls in the U.S. related to sudden acceleration, said YouGov, a British firm that tracks brand perception daily. A Los Angeles Times series helped draw attention to Toyota's problems, which led to congressional hearings.
BUSINESS
January 10, 2012 | By Ronald D. White
Sempra U.S. Gas & Power and BP Wind Energy announced plans to invest more than $1 billion in the joint development of the Mehoopany Wind Farm in Pennsylvania and the Flat Ridge 2 Wind Farm in Kansas. Both wind farms, which will be the largest ever built in their respective states, are expected to be operating by the end of the year. The wind farms will have a combined output of 560 megawatts. Jeffrey W. Martin, president and chief executive of Sempra U.S. Gas & Power, said Tuesday: "This is an exciting time for our company.
NATIONAL
January 9, 2012 | By Bettina Boxall, Los Angeles Times
The geography and water circulation patterns of the northern Gulf of Mexico promoted the breakdown of oil and gas spewing from a busted wellhead during the BP oil disaster, according to a new study. Using computer models and Navy data on gulf currents, the authors concluded that rather than moving away from the deep-sea wellhead in a linear fashion, oil-laced water often looped back, returning hydrocarbon-munching bacterial blooms to the rising oil plume for repeated feasts. "That northern portion of the gulf is almost enclosed on three sides," said lead author David Valentine, a UC Santa Barbara professor of microbial geochemistry.
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