[JURIST] A judge for the US District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana [official website] on Thursday rejected [order, PDF] a motion by BP to reduce the civil fine payable under the Clean Water Act [text, PDF] in relation to the 2010 offshore oil spill [JURIST backgrounder]. BP’s appeal sought to reduce the fine per barrel from the $4,300 proposed by the US government to $3,000 per barrel. Judge Carl Barbie’s opinion accepted the government’s argument that the higher price was necessary to adjust for inflation. This opinion follows an earlier ruling by Barbier in January reducing [JURIST report] the maximum fine BP could face due to an overestimation of the size of the oil spill.
The April 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill [BBC backgrounder] had far-reaching and catastrophic environmental effects [JURIST backgrounder]. According to a 2013 study [PDF] published by the National Academy of Sciences, it is difficult to know the full extent of environmental damage caused by the spill because of the movement of ocean currents and the difficulties of monitoring the great variety of natural resources found in the Gulf of Mexico. In December the US Supreme Court [official website] declined to review the settlement reached in the oil spill case following an order of adherence [JURIST reports] to the terms of the settlement issued by the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit [official website] last March. BP claims that under the terms of the settlement they are forced to pay businesses and individuals who could not prove that their injuries were caused by the oil spill in 2010. In January the Supreme Court denied [JURIST report] review of the obstruction of justice charge brought against a BP executive.