The largest oil disaster in our nation's history warrants record-high criminal penalties, but the fight to hold BP fully accountable is far from over. This plea deal does not cover most environmental damages, and BP still owe fines under the Clean Water Act and, through the Natural Resources Damage Assessment process, they must pay to repair the damage done by their oil. Hopefully, this resolution today brings some peace of mind to the families of the 11 men whose lives were lost due to BP's negligence and willingness to put profits over safety.
BP's admission of criminal misconduct should bolster the Department of Justice case, and harden the Department's resolve, to pursue maximum civil penalties and fines under the Clean Water Act totalling approximately $20 billion due to BP's gross negligence. Thanks to the RESTORE Act, we know most of the Clean Water Act fines will go towards Gulf restoration, as they should.
We offer a hefty thanks to the Department of Justice and President Obama for their work in securing the largest criminal settlement in U.S. history, and pursuing individual criminal charges, that should serve as a strong detterent for reckless behavior by any and all oil and gas companies in the future. We're happy to see a large portion of the criminal fines agreed to today go towards conservation efforts solely focused on the Gulf of Mexico region. The funding for science is also a good sign, since there is a clear need for monitoring of the ongoing impacts from BP's oil in the Gulf. Unfortunately, DOJ missed an opportunity to use some funds to create a Regional Citizens' Advisory Council that gives local, impacted communities a formal role in oil and gas industry oversight.
BP's oil disaster continues in the Gulf - from oil still in the marshes to science showing impacts at almost every level of the food chain - and the full impacts will still take years to determine. While this criminal plea is welcome good news in the fight to hold BP accountable, the Department of Justice and BP should not prematurely settle claims for too little under the Clean Water Act or under the Natural Resources Damage Assessment, which is in place to ensure BP pays full price for repairing the environmental damage their oil has done.
Any piece of this statement may be quoted with attribution to Dan Favre, Communications Director, Gulf Restoration Network.