BP Set To Pay Largest Environmental Fine in US History for Gulf Oil Spill

The British company will pay $18.7 billion to be divided among affected states, and earmarked for cleanup projects.

A large plume of smoke rises from fires on BP's Deepwater Horizon offshore oil rig, in April 2010.Gerald Herbert, File/AP


This story was originally published by the Guardian and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

BP has agreed to pay a record environmental fine of $18.7 billion to settle legal actions brought by the US and several states over the fatal 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

The US justice department, along with the states of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Texas and Florida, all sued BP for damages not covered by the company’s earlier settlements with businesses and individuals harmed by the worst offshore spill in US history.

The settlement ends all litigation between BP, the states and the US government and allows the company to pay over 18 years. BP’s share price rose on the news.

Last September, judge Carl Barbier, who has overseen the tortuous legal case resulting from the disaster, ruled BP had been “grossly negligent” in its handling of the well. The decision opened up BP to the highest possible fines.

The company will pay $7.1bn in “natural resource damage assessment,” and the money will be divided among the states and earmarked for environmental cleanup projects related to the spill. BP was fined $5.5bn under the Clean Water Act.

The 2010 explosion at the Deepwater Horizon oil rig cost 11 lives and resulted in 4.2m barrels of oil spewing into the Gulf over 87 days, according to the US government.

BP argued the volume of the spill was far lower. Barbier eventually ruled BP was responsible for the release of 3.1m barrels. The spill affected the shore of the Gulf coast from Louisiana to Florida. Its impact on seafood and wildlife is still being assessed.

Louisiana attorney general James “Buddy” Caldwell said: “This agreement is the result of five years of hard-fought litigation and intense scientific research, and it provides Louisiana the coastal restoration and compensation it needs following the Deepwater Horizon disaster.”

He said Louisiana, the state most affected by the spill, was recovering more than $10bn from BP—more than any state has ever recovered for this type of case. “This agreement lets us focus right away on improving the state without further litigation delays and appeals that could take years. I am extremely pleased by the work done by the Court and all the parties in this matter to reach an agreement that will bring great and historic benefits to Louisiana and the Gulf.”

“Five years ago we committed to restore the Gulf economy and environment and we have worked ever since to deliver on that promise,” said BP chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg.

“We have made significant progress, and with this agreement we provide a path to closure for BP and the Gulf. It resolves the company’s largest remaining legal exposures, provides clarity on costs and creates certainty of payment for all parties involved.”

More Mother Jones reporting on Climate Desk

HERE ARE THE FACTS:

Our fall fundraising drive is off to a rough start, and we very much need to raise $250,000 in the next couple of weeks. If you value the journalism you get from Mother Jones, please help us do it with a donation today.

As we wrote over the summer, traffic has been down at Mother Jones and a lot of sites with many people thinking news is less important now that Donald Trump is no longer president. But if you're reading this, you're not one of those people, and we're hoping we can rally support from folks like you who really get why our reporting matters right now. And that's how it's always worked: For 45 years now, a relatively small group of readers (compared to everyone we reach) who pitch in from time to time has allowed Mother Jones to do the type of journalism the moment demands and keep it free for everyone else.

Please pitch in with a donation during our fall fundraising drive if you can. We can't afford to come up short, and there's still a long way to go by November 5.

payment methods

ONE MORE QUICK THING:

Our fall fundraising drive is off to a rough start, and we very much need to raise $250,000 in the next couple of weeks. If you value the journalism you get from Mother Jones, please help us do it with a donation today.

As we wrote over the summer, traffic has been down at Mother Jones and a lot of sites with many people thinking news is less important now that Donald Trump is no longer president. But if you're reading this, you're not one of those people, and we're hoping we can rally support from folks like you who really get why our reporting matters right now. And that's how it's always worked: For 45 years now, a relatively small group of readers (compared to everyone we reach) who pitch in from time to time has allowed Mother Jones to do the type of journalism the moment demands and keep it free for everyone else.

Please pitch in with a donation during our fall fundraising drive if you can. We can't afford to come up short, and there's still a long way to go by November 5.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate