On Monday, October 5th, the United States and the five Gulf states announced a settlement to resolve all civil claims against BP arising from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster. The gulf-wide settlement is worth $20 billion.
The settlement, once approved by a judge, will resolve all civil claims against BP and end five years of legal fighting over a 134 million-gallon spill that affected 1,300 miles of shoreline. It also will bind the company to a massive cleanup project in the Gulf Coast area aimed at restoring wildlife, habitat and water quality.
Among other requirements, BP would have to pay $5.5 billion in Clean Water Act penalties. The company would also be required to pay $8.1 billion ($5 billion to Louisiana) in natural resource damages, with funds going toward Gulf restoration projects such as support for coastal wetlands, fish and birds.
An additional $600 million would cover other costs, such as reimbursement for federal and state natural resource damage assessment costs. And up to $1 billion would go to local governments to settle claims for economic damage from the spill, which followed the April 2010 explosion on an offshore oil rig that killed 11 workers.
The final steps are to seek public comment and Court approval on the consent decree outlining the details of the settlement.
Concurrent with the settlement announcement, the Deepwater Horizon Natural Resource Damage Assessment Trustees have also released a Draft Programmatic Damage Assessment and Restoration Plan and Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PDARP/PEIS) which, if approved, would establish a framework for utilizing up to $8.8 billion associated with natural resource damages, including a minimum of $5 billion specifically for Louisiana.
Both the consent decree and the Draft PDARP/PEIS are available for public comment for 60 days. Louisiana will be hosting two public meetings to discuss the consent decree and the draft document. The meetings will begin with an interactive open house followed by a formal presentation and opportunity participants to provide comments on both the proposed settlement with BP and the Draft PDARP/PEIS.
Monday, October 19th, Courtyard by Marriott, Houma, 142 Library Blvd., Houma, LA 70360, 5:00 p.m. open house, 6:00 p.m., public meeting.
Thursday, October 22nd, Hilton Garden Inn, New Orleans Convention Center, Garden Ballroom, 10001 South Peters St, New Orleans, LA, 5:00 p.m. open house, 6:00 p.m. public meeting.
A breakdown of the Louisiana share of the settlement is as follows: This settlement, combined with prior Deepwater Horizon-related settlements, translates into approximately $8.7 billion for Louisiana coastal restoration. Approval of these documents will allow the state to move forward with identifying and implementing critical restoration and protection projects. Upon finalization of the draft plan and Court approval of the consent decree, project-specific restoration plans will be developed for public review and approval.
- A minimum of $5 billion for natural resource damages (includes $368 million previously allocated for early restoration projects);
- A minimum of approximately $787 million for Clean Water Act civil penalties (subject to the RESTORE Act); and
- $1 billion for state economic damages.
The consent decree, associated documents and instructions for commenting can be found at:http://www.justice.gov/enrd/
Draft Programmatic Damage Assessment and Restoration Plan and Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PDARP/PEIS):
The Deepwater Horizon NRDA Trustees released the draft PDARP/PEIS for public review and comment. The draft document includes an ecosystem-level assessment of impacts to the Gulf’s natural resources, a proposed programmatic restoration plan and an examination of the environmental impacts of various restoration alternatives.
The draft plan proposes appropriate types of restoration and provides guidance for identifying, evaluating and selecting future restoration projects to be implemented with the approximately $5 billion allocated to Louisiana for natural resource damages.
The Draft PDARP/PEIS, associated documents and instructions for commenting can be found at: www.gulfspillrestoration.