BP Blowout

Inside the Gulf Oil Disaster

Daniel Jacobs
Release Date: October 18, 2016
Inside Look:

The story of the worst environmental disaster in American history and its enduring consequences

BP Blowout is the first comprehensive account of the legal, economic, and environmental consequences of the disaster that resulted from the April 2010 blowout at a BP well in the Gulf of Mexico. The accident, which destroyed the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, killed 11 people. The ensuing oil discharge–the largest ever in U.S. waters—polluted much of the Gulf for months, wreaking havoc on its inhabitants and the environment.

A management professor and former award-winning Justice Department lawyer responsible for enforcing environmental laws, Daniel Jacobs tells the story that neither BP nor the federal government wants heard: how the company and the government fell short, both in terms of preventing and responding to the disaster.

Critical details about the cause and aftermath of the disaster have emerged through court proceedings and with time. The key finding of the federal judge who presided over the civil litigation was that the blowout resulted from BP’s gross negligence.

BP has paid tens of billions of dollars to settle claims and lawsuits. The company also has pled guilty to manslaughter in a separate criminal case, but no one responsible for the tragedy is going to prison.

BP Blowout provides new and disturbing details in a definitive narrative that takes the reader inside BP, the White House, Congress and the courthouse. This is an important book for readers interested in the environment, sustainability, public policy, leadership, and risk management.

Praise for BP Blowout

Beginning with the “May Day” signal sent by a young woman officer on board the Deepwater Horizon, to the final chapter of lessons learned, BP Blowout delivers all the before and in-between pieces. Through thorough investigation and personal interviews, the author lays out in great detail the not only the who and the how, but the why. If you are concerned with energy, clean seas, the economy and environmental policy. BP Blowout is must reading.
—John Francis, National Geographic Society Education Fellow, former UNEP Goodwill Ambassador, and author of The Ragged Edge of Silence

More than six years after the blowout at the Deepwater Horizon, we’re still monitoring and assessing the fallout from what is the worst environmental disaster in our country’s history. Daniel Jacobs’ detailed narrative underscores the importance of getting it right—that is, the attitudes and safeguards critical to ensuring that offshore drilling is, in fact, done safely in the Gulf and elsewhere. Lest we forget.
—William K. Reilly, co-chair, National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling

If a newspaper report is the first draft of history, Daniel Jacobs’ book is an initial library edition of what happened before, during, and especially after the BP Gulf Oil Disaster. The insights contained here will accelerate understanding of the oceans, a global industry, and the technology and politics intended to allow them to function safely in the same space.
—Bob Graham, co-chair, National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling


Daniel Jacobs is a graduate of Middlebury College, Cambridge University, and Duke Law School and has served as lead counsel in high-profile environmental enforcement litigation brought by the same Justice Department office that handled the landmark civil case against BP. After entering academia, Jacobs became the founding director of the first interdisciplinary graduate business program in sustainability management in the United States.