Written by Kiley Kroh
Thursday, the Justice Department announced BP agreed to plead guilty to 14 criminal charges stemming from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill and agreed to pay $4.5 billion in fines and penalties – the largest single criminal fine and largest total criminal resolution in US history. Attorney General Eric Holder emphasized several times that the announcement is only one piece of the government’s ongoing efforts to hold BP fully accountable for the deaths of 11 men and one of the worst environmental disasters in US history.
Here’s a rundown of what the settlement entailed and what lies ahead.
What were the charges?
Where will the money go?
In addition to the size of the resolution, the settlement is also historic in its dedication of the majority of funds to the affected Gulf Coast states for environmental restoration.
What additional aspects of BP’s liability have not been resolved?
The settlement was just one step toward determining full liability for the catastrophe, with the largest potential penalties still remaining.
The people and ecosystem of the Gulf Coast continue to struggle with the devastating impacts of the Deepwater Horizon spill – and will likely do so for many years to come. Therefore, it is encouraging that the government has structured the settlement to ensure the majority of penalties paid by BP are returned to the impacted states to begin the painstaking process of environmental and economic restoration. The bipartisan RESTORE Act, which passed Congress in June, is a critical piece of legislation also aimed at achieving that end. The bill requires 80 percent of civil fines paid by the responsible parties under the Clean Water Act to be diverted to the five Gulf states impacted by the spill, rather than to the general treasury.
This action marks an enormous step forward in the enduring effort to make the Gulf Coast whole again. In order to truly hold the responsible parties accountable for the Deepwater Horizon tragedy and ensure long-term recovery of the hard-hit region, the Administration should continue to pursue the maximum penalty in remaining civil fines and damages.
This post was originally published by Climate Progress.
Photo: Stefan Leijon/flickr
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