Gulf oil spill companies face liability apart from settlement
With an estimated $7.8 billion settlement in the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill case involving most private claims in place, federal, state and local officials are awaiting a still-to-be scheduled conference before U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier to determine the scope of the remaining liability facing BP and other parties, The Times-Picayune reports. Under two federal laws, BP and other responsible parties are likely still facing $20 billion or more in expenses, court observers say. Under the Clean Water Act, the companies involved in developing the Macondo well using the ill-fated Deepwater Horizon drillship could be required to pay fines totaling $17.6 billion, to which an additional $5 billion could be charged if the companies are found to have been grossly negligent. And under the terms of the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, the responsible parties also are liable for damages to natural resources and the public's use of those resources. That law requires the companies to pay for projects that offset both categories, which could total another $5 billion or more. The responsible parties also may be subject to smaller fines under other environmental laws, including the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the Endangered Species Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act. On top of that, the companies could face another $15 billion in federal criminal penalties if charges are filed against BP, its officers or any other companies associated with the spill. Read the full story here.
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