BP settlement sends billions to Gulf States
Nelson applauds step forward, says focus should now turn to the government’s civil case against the oil giant
November 15, 2012
Washington, D.C. –The Justice Department announced today that more than half of a record-breaking $4 billion criminal settlement with BP over the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill will head directly to Gulf Coast states impacted by the spill.
According to the Justice Department, $2.4 billion is expected to head to Gulf Coast states. Half of that pot will go towards protecting and preserving coastal environments in Florida, Alabama, Mississippi and Texas. The other $1.2 billion will go towards coastal restoration efforts in Louisiana.
In addition, BP will plead guilty to 11 counts of felony manslaughter, obstruction of justice for lying to lawmakers about the amount of oil spilled in the Gulf of Mexico, and violations of the Clean Water and Migratory Bird Treaty Acts. Two BP employees will also face charges of manslaughter for the 11 deaths caused by Deepwater Horizon explosion.
“I’m happy that the Justice Department brought the hammer down on BP and continues to hold them accountable for the hurt they’ve caused the people, businesses and environment of the Gulf Coast,” U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) said today. “Now that this is worked out, it’s time to move on to the civil side of things and get Gulf Coast residents every cent they deserve.”
Today’s proposed settlement does not cover civil damages the federal government is also pursuing against BP under The Clean Water Act. If the court finds the company was grossly negligent, the federal civil case could result in BP being held liable for as much as $21 billion.
Nelson, who co-authored The RESTORE Act, which directs the lion’s share of civil fines collected from BP directly back to Gulf Coast communities for environmental and economic restoration, has been at the forefront of efforts to hold BP accountable.
He was one of the first lawmakers who asked BP to make video of the spill site public. He began pressing for the video after a brief snippet of the leak released by BP led a number of scientists to conclude the spill was much worse than the company originally said. A week-long tug-of-war between Nelson and BP ended when the Florida Democrat posted a live video feed from the Gulf floor in May of 2010.