By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Thursday, British Petroleum (BP) agreed with the US Department of Justice that the company was criminally liable for its role in the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill which killed 11 seamen and polluted much of the Gulf of Mexico. As part of their criminal punishment BP has agreed to pay $4.5 billion in fines.
US Senator Jeff Sessions (R) from Alabama said, “After the oil spill, I was emphatic that BP should be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law and even to the extent of its existence. This deadly and costly tragedy was avoidable, and those responsible should be held to account. While we have not yet seen all of the settlement terms, today’s agreement on criminal liability appears to be a strong step forward in that process. My firm expectation is that the Department of Justice will also zealously pursue recovery of the maximum amount of Clean Water Act civil fines. As Congress determined in the RESTORE Act, which I fought for along with other Gulf Coast members, the Clean Water Act civil penalty dollars are critically important to the long-term economic and environmental recovery of the Gulf Coast.” Sen. Sessions is a senior member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.
In his weekly column, US Representative Jo Bonner (R) from Mobile said, “The Justice Department noted that the settlement represented both the single largest criminal fine and the single largest total criminal resolution in the history of the United States. The announced criminal settlement between BP and the Justice Department represents but a down payment on the oil company’s obligation to mitigate the environmental and economic damage it unleashed on the Gulf Coast more than two years ago.”
Rep. Bonner said, “When Attorney General Holder personally informed me of the criminal settlement, he gave his assurances that the Justice Department would vigorously pursue further civil penalties under the Clean Water Act, which is subject to the RESTORE Act. I have made clear to the Attorney General that anything less would be unacceptable to our coastal communities. Justice must prevail.” Congressman Bonner said that the federal government can now pursue damages from BP under the Clear Water Act. According to Bonner, 80% of those penalties will be directed to Gulf Coast Communities via the RESTORE Act.
Rep. Bonner said, “BP must not mistake the Justice Department’s agreement to the criminal penalties from the 2010 spill for a signal that pending civil penalties under the Clean Water Act will be any less severe.”