By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Thursday BP agreed to plead guilty to manslaughter and other crimes for their role in creating the disaster and subsequent efforts to hide the scope of the disaster which killed 11 seamen and polluted the coastline of Alabama and four other states. As part of their criminal penalty, BP agreed to a settlement with the US Department of Justice that the company would pay $4 billion.
Sen. Shelby said in a written statement,
“As negotiations now focus on settling outstanding civil penalties, state officials must stand strong if the Obama administration does not deliver the full promise of the RESTORE Act. Today’s headline will be nothing to celebrate if areas directly affected by the oil spill, such as Mobile and Baldwin counties, are shortchanged in the end.”
Senator Shelby is the co-author of the RESTORE Act, which allocates to Gulf Coast states 80 percent of civil penalties assessed against BP under the Clean Water Act for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
Shelby’s office wrote,
“The total amount of funding to be allocated to the Gulf Coast states under the RESTORE Act remains to be determined through ongoing legal proceedings between federal authorities and liable parties. Once this amount is determined, the RESTORE Act directs 80 percent of Clean Water Act penalties resulting from the Gulf oil spill to the coastal areas directly impacted by the spill.”
Sen. Shelby and Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) from Louisiana wrote the RESTORE Act because absent the RESTORE Act the Clean Water Act fines would have gone to the US Treasury instead of the local communities affected by the disaster. President Obama signed the RESTORE Act into law on July 6, 2012. Under the RESTORE Act, the Clean Water Act fine money can only be used only for the affected areas’ ecological and economic recovery.
According to Sen. Shelby’s office 65% of the funds will be spent by state and local task forces, 30% of the funds will be spend by a federal-state task force, and 5% of the funds will be for Gulf fisheries and ecosystem research and monitoring. The funds that are dedicated to the State of Alabama will be spent by a council of local leaders subject to state ethics laws and chaired by the Governor of Alabama (Robert Bentley or his successor). The remaining 20% of the Clean Water Act penalties will be dedicated to the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund.
US Attorney General Eric Holder said,
“The $4 billion in penalties and fines is the single largest criminal resolution in the history of the United States and constitutes a major achievement toward fulfilling a promise that the Justice Department made nearly two years ago to respond to the consequences of this epic environmental disaster and seek justice on behalf of its victims, We specifically structured this resolution to ensure that more than half of the proceeds directly benefit the Gulf Coast region so that residents can continue to recover and rebuild.”
The criminal penalty funds will be largely directed by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.