Campbell Robertson, John Schwartz, and Richard Pérez-Peña, THE NEW YORK TIMES
NEW ORLEANS (The New York Times) — An $18.7 billion settlement announced Thursday of all federal, state and local claims against the oil giant BP arising from the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill would be the largest environmental settlement — and the largest civil settlement with any single entity — in the nation’s history, officials said Thursday.
The settlement, if approved by a federal judge, could bring to a close the largest unresolved legal dispute arising from the April 2010 explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, which left 11 dead and spewed millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.
The deal would include, in addition to the federal government, the states of Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas, as well as more than 400 local government entities along the coast, which had argued that the spill had ruined tourist seasons, crippled the seafood industry and dried up sales tax revenue.
Under the agreement, BP would pay the federal government a civil penalty of $5.5 billion under the Clean Water Act over a 15-year time frame, and would pay $7.1 billion under the Natural Resource Damage Assessment to the gulf, which is meant to compensate for direct environmental harm caused by the spill.
A further $5 billion of the settlement — in addition to $1 billion for local government claims — would arise from economic damage claims made by the states. But those claims are only a part of what the states would be getting.