US government to appeal ruling reducing BP’s potential oil spill liability
US government to appeal ruling reducing BP’s potential oil spill liability

[JURIST] The US government on Friday appealed a federal court ruling that reduced the potential liability BP [corporate website] faces under the Clean Water Act [text, PDF] in relation to the 2010 offshore oil spill [JURIST backgrounder]. District Court Judge Carl Barbier of the US District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana [official website] in January set [Reuters report] the size of the Deepwater Horizon spill at 3.19 million barrels, significantly below the 4.09 million barrels estimated to have been spilled by the US government. Under the government’s estimation, BP faced up to $17.6 billion in fines under the Clean Water Act. Barbier’s ruling would decrease the potential fine by around $4 billion.

The April 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, or BP oil spill, has had far-reaching and catastrophic environmental and economic effects [JURIST backgrounder]. In February Barbier rejected a motion [JURIST report] by BP to reduce the civil fine payable under the Clean Water Act. BP’s appeal sought to reduce the fine per barrel from the $4,300 proposed by the US government to $3,000 per barrel. In December the US Supreme Court [official website] declined [JURIST report] to review a settlement with BP resulting from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster. In August a federal district court in Louisiana ruled [JURIST report] that BP was grossly negligent and bears a majority of the blame for the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster.