Federal judge approves $20 billion Gulf oil spill settlement

Federal judge approves $20 billion Gulf oil spill settlement

[JURIST] A judge for the US District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana [official website] on Monday entered a final judgement approving a $20 billion settlement [consent decree, PDF] in the BP Oil Spill case [case information]. The settlement was reached [JURIST report] last summer and has been awaiting final approval. The agreement between BP and the US Department of Justice [official website] and the affected Gulf states specifically requires the company to pay at least $12.8 billion in penalties stipulated under the Clean Water Act [text] and natural resource damages. The case the largest environmental settlement in US history. US Attorney General Loretta Lynch said [statement], “[t]oday’s action holds BP accountable with the largest environmental penalty of all time while launching one of the most extensive environmental restoration efforts ever undertaken.”

The April 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill has had far-reaching and catastrophic environmental and economic effects [JURIST backgrounder]. Last year the US government appealed a federal court ruling [JURIST report] that reduced the potential liability BP faces under the Clean Water Act in relation to the 2010 spill. In February of last year District Court Judge Carl Barbier of the US District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana 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 2014 the US Supreme Court declined [JURIST report] to review a settlement with BP resulting from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster. In August 2014 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.