Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Justice Department Fines BP $20.8 Billion For Gulf Oil Spill

The Justice Department has detailed a record-setting civil settlement with BP over the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico that will cost the London-based oil company $20.8 billion.  The historic civil penalty sends a clear message of accountability for those who pollute the U.S. environment.
The highlights of the settlement include $8.1 billion in natural resource damages, including $1 billion BP agreed to pay earlier; $5.5 billion plus interest for Clean Water Act penalties; and $5.9 billion under a separate agreement to cover state and local government claims.
The settlement does not, however, include $4 billion that BP agreed to pay earlier to settle criminal charges or the billions more it has spent cleaning up the oil spill and settling separate civil claims with private individuals.  The Justice Department settlement includes $700 million to address natural resource problems that might come to light later. 
The settlement ends a chapter of the BP oil spill, which occurred April 20, 2010, when a blowout on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig killed 11 workers, set the rig on fire and triggered the spill. It took 87 days to stop the oil from surging into the waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
The government said that the oil slick at one point grew to the size of Virginia and fouled 1,300 miles of coastline.
The Clean Water Act fine was by far the largest in history, amounting to $1,725 a barrel. That fell well short of the maximum allowable fine, $4,300 a barrel in cases of gross negligence.
The settlement is not designed to discourage any valid economic activity, but the massive fines are designed to let other companies know they are going to be responsible for the harm that occurs should accidents like this happen in the future.  (Wash Post, 10/5/2015)

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