By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Monday, October 5 Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange (R) more details about Alabama’s settlement with BP regarding damages from the 2010 Gulf oil spill.
AG Strange said in a statement, “After five years of litigation, I am pleased to announce that Alabama’s $1 billion settlement with BP for economic damages is now officially approved by all parties. In addition, the United States has lodged a consent decree that will allow the public to comment on the global settlement of natural resource damages and federal penalties, which if approved, will bring another billion dollars to Alabama’s coastal counties.”
On July 2, 2015, BP, the United States, and the five Gulf States announced a global agreement that would bring approximately $2 billion dollars to Alabama for the economic and environmental damages resulting from the 2010 oil spill. On Monday, these Parties and the Federal District Court overseeing the case entered multiple documents containing the final details of this settlement.
According to the AG’s office, the United States lodged a consent decree that contained the details of a global resolution of natural resource damages claims against BP, as well as the United States’ civil penalty claims against BP. Under the proposed decree, more than $295 million of natural resource damages monies would be spent in Alabama’s coastal counties to restore Alabama’s coastal environment. Another $1.25 billion would be spent restoring environmental conditions in the open ocean and in region-wide projects that include Alabama’s coastal counties.
The consent decree also discloses BP’s payment of $5.5 billion in civil penalties. Under the terms of the 2012 Congressional RESTORE Act, Alabama will receive approximately $708 million of this amount to be spent on environmental restoration, economic recovery projects, and tourism and seafood promotion.
The public can comment on these terms through December 4, 2015, on the United States Department of Justice website: www.justice.gov/enrd/deepwater-horizon
The governments will consider these comments in determining whether to seek Court approval of the consent decree.
The Gulf States and BP jointly filed a separate document containing the details of their finalized settlement of claims for economic damages. Under this settlement, BP will pay Alabama $1 billion as follows: $950 million Paid by BP to the Alabama General Fund; $50 million a year for the years 2016 through 2018; $53.33 million in each of the years from 2019 to 2033; $50 million will go to the controversial Alabama Gulf State Park luxury hotel and convention project; and the Alabama Attorney General’s Office will receive $10 million directly from BP.
AG Strange applauded the apparent outcome: “From the outset, I have sought to secure the maximum amount of economic settlement money for the State of Alabama, while avoiding Alabama taxpayers footing the bill for the litigation. The finalized settlement achieves both goals. BP has agreed to pay Alabama $1 billion in economic damage compensation, the majority of which will go to the state’s General Fund. On top of its $1 billion payment to the State, BP will also pay for legal expenses incurred by the Attorney General’s office and the Governor.” “I am also pleased that today’s settlement of civil penalties and natural resource damages will send approximately $1 billion to Alabama’s coastal counties, which will allow our friends on the Gulf to continue restoring both their environment and their economy.” “Today’s outcome is due in large part to the hard work of more than 20 state attorneys and staff. Thanks to the thousands of hours they expended on this task, my office was able to secure $10 million in legal fees from BP, all of which will go to fill a hole in our current budget created by a funding shortfall from the Alabama legislature.”
U.S. Representative Bradley Byrne (R from Montrose) was less complimentary of the deal. Rep. Byrne said, “I remain frustrated by the terms of the BP oil spill settlement. Under these terms, too much money will go to Washington and Montgomery, but not to the communities on the Gulf who were actually hit hardest by the oil spill. A better settlement would have directed more money into the RESTORE Act process and allowed our coastal communities to decide how the money should be spent.”
The 2010 explosion of the ‘Deepwater Horizon’ was the largest oil spill in American history.