On January 20, the third phase of the BP drilling disaster civil trial will resume in federal court in New Orleans, Louisiana. The result of this trial will determine how much BP and other responsible parties pay in Clean Water Act fines for the 2010 drilling disaster. Estimates for the amount of fines range from $5 to $18 billion. Due to the passage of the RESTORE Act, 80% of these fines will be directed towards the restoration of the Gulf.
BP’s Clean Water Act fines represent a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to restore the Gulf’s environment and communities, and make our region more resilient for future generations. Before we can seize this opportunity, BP needs to come clean. From tar balls washing up on our shores to a bathtub ring of oil along the bottom of the Gulf, we’re still seeing the impacts of BP’s oil.
In this third phase of the BP trial, we’re heartened to see that the government’s lawyers are seeking the maximum fines possible under the Clean Water Act. Although BP has paid out some economic claims and begun to pay for restoration under a process called the Natural Resources Damage Assessment (NRDA), it has yet to pay a single dime in Clean Water Act civil penalties.
Holding BP acountable will not only provide much needed dollars for restoration – but it will also act as deterrent to make sure that BP and other companies don’t repeat the “gross negligence” displayed by BP in the lead-up to the disaster.
Any portion of this statement may be quoted with attribution to Cynthia Sarthou, Executive Director, Gulf Restoration Network. Cynthia is also available to speak with members of the media upon request.
For additional background on the trial, see the Environmental Law Institute’s Deepwater Horizon Litigation: Where Things Stand and What is Next.
Gulf Restoration Network is a 20-year-old non-profit dedicated to uniting and empowering people to protect and restore the health of the Gulf of Mexico.