Judge Issues Final Order in BP Case

U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier's April 4 order confirms the company's $18.7 billion settlement of federal and state claims announced last July.

U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier of New Orleans issued a final order April 4 that approves BP's $18.7 billion settlement of federal and state claims from the April 20, 2010, Deepwater Horizon disaster, which killed 11 workers and triggered a major oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico that lasted for 87 days. When BP announced the proposed settlement last July, it reported that its total pre-tax charges from the spill set aside for criminal and civil penalties and cleanup costs were approximately $53.8 billion.

"It is a historic day for Gulf wildlife and coastal communities. Nearly six years after the start of the BP oil disaster, today's settlement represents an opportunity to finally achieve justice for the Gulf, with the scope of the resources available for restoration confirmed," said Collin O'Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. "We applaud the Gulf Coast states, U.S. Department of Justice, and BP for coming to this resolution. This announcement marks the end of a long legal process and the start of a new chapter for the people and wildlife of the Gulf. However, the road to restoration is a long one, and our work is just beginning. We urge the Gulf states and federal agencies to use these funds to back large-scale restoration projects that not only fix what was broken, but also work to ensure the future sustainability and resiliency of one of America's most ecologically and economically vibrant landscapes in the face of climate-driven sea level rise. As a nation, we can't stop paying attention now that the settlement is final – we must strive to see that the money is spent wisely and efficiently to achieve real and lasting restoration and the renewal of one of America's greatest ecosystems."

The settlement covers multiple years and includes BP's payment of at least $12.8 billion for Clean Water Act fines and natural resource damages, along with $4.9 billion to five states.

Beyond the heavy loss of lives, the blowout caused an oil spill that lasted 87 days, resulted in a reorganization of the Department of the Interior's offshore apparatus and the creation of the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) in October 2011, and cost companies involved in the drilling billions of dollars. BP plc announced in July 2015 that it had agreed to settle federal and state claims for $18.7 billion and said at that time that its cumulative pre-tax charge associated with the incident and spill was around $53.8 billion by that time, while a Transocean Ltd. subsidiary agreed to plead guilty to one misdemeanor violation of the Clean Water Act for negligent discharge of oil into the Gulf of Mexico and pay $1.4 billion in fines, recoveries, and penalties to resolve the federal criminal investigation of Transocean and settle its claims for civil penalties.

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