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United States Files Motion to Enter Settlement with BP

March 22, 2016

Courtesy of Assistant Attorney General John C. Cruden of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division

Today, the United States asked the federal court in New Orleans to approve the settlement resolving the government’s civil claims against BP arising from the April 20, 2010, Macondo well blowout and the massive oil spill that followed in the Gulf of Mexico.  Today it is known as the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and it will be remembered as the largest off shore oil spill and certainly one of the largest environmental disasters in American history. 

On Oct. 5, 2015 the United States and the five Gulf states announced that proposed settlement, which would resolve the governments’ civil claims under the Clean Water Act and natural resources damage claims under the Oil Pollution Act and would also allow for implementation of a related settlement of economic damage claims of the Gulf states and local governments.  Taken together this global resolution of civil claims is worth more than $20 billion.  Since announcing the proposed settlement the Department of Justice, along with the five Gulf States and the Departments of Interior, Commerce and Agriculture as well as the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Coast Guard have conducted eight public hearings and sought public comment on all aspects of the consent decree.  We are now providing all of the 28,000 comments we received to the court along with our evaluation as to why the final consent decree is fair, reasonable and in the public interest.

With today’s action we take another step towards restoring the Gulf to its condition before the Deepwater spill – by bringing an unprecedented amount of resources that will be dedicating to this iconic ecosystem – and achieving justice for the American people.  If the proposed consent decree is approved by the court, BP will pay a Clean Water Act penalty of $5.5 billion (plus interest), $8.1 billion in natural resource damages, up to an additional $700 million to address injuries to natural resources that are presently unknown and $600 million for other claims, including claims under the False Claims Act, royalties and reimbursement of natural resource damage assessment costs and other expenses due to this incident.  Taken with the related agreement which requires BP to pay approximately $5.9 billion to the states and local government entities, BP will be paying a total of over $20 billion, the largest settlement with a single entity in the history of federal law enforcement.  We applaud the work of our federal counterparts and state and local partners who made this historic settlement happen with their diligence, energy and commitment.

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Updated March 3, 2017