Petroleum giant BP — which put millions of gallons of crude into the Gulf of Mexico and onto the shorelines of Gulf states when the Deepwater Horizon oil rig blew in 2010, killing 11 people — is "receiving the punishment it deserves," according to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch. In announcing a historic $20 billion settlement with BP on Oct. 6, Lynch laid out the terms of the largest environmental settlement in U.S. history.
BP has agreed to send $6.8 billion to Louisiana, not counting the $2 billion the state received from the company in the disaster's aftermath. BP's maximum penalties potentially would have resulted in more than $13 billion in fines, but the feds agreed to settle to avoid more time in court and less time on recovery.
In a statement following Lynch's announcement, Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell said the payout will help the state "move forward to begin rebuilding our coast and repairing the damage caused by this spill rather than dealing with the uncertainty and delays of trial and appeals."
The agreement includes $5.5 billion in federal Clean Water Act fines, with interest, which will be distributed via the recently passed RESTORE Act. More than $8 billion will go toward natural resource damages and coastal restoration in Gulf states, and millions of dollars will go toward the state and federal costs of damage assessments and other expenses. The agreement and restoration plan are open to public comment at www.justice.gov/enrd/deepwater-horizon and www.gulfspillrestoration.noaa.gov, respectively.