News broke Sunday (Feb. 26) that U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier had delayed the start of the trial over the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster till March 5. The judge postponed the trial to allow more time for settlement negotiations among the parties.
If parties reach a settlement, the settlement must hold BP and the other responsible parties fully accountable for the magnitude of the disaster they caused, and it must ensure that penalty dollars come back to restore the region that was harmed by the disaster.
The gulf oil spill is the largest offshore oil disaster in history. The clean-up and restoration will continue for decades, and the full scale of damage won’t be known for years. To this day, oil persists in the environment and continues to wash ashore. The clean-up and recovery must not be shortchanged.
Furthermore, the fines and penalties must go toward restoring the region that was harmed by the disaster rather than being diverted to unrelated federal spending. The RESTORE Act, currently under consideration in the Senate, lays out a framework for restoration of the gulf. We support that legislation and urge those considering settlement to draw on the RESTORE Act for guidance.
An overwhelming majority of American voters – more than 80 percent – expect BP’s fines to be used to restore areas damaged in the disaster. It’s a matter of simple fairness that unites voters of every political persuasion from all across the country. And voters understand the importance of the gulf to U.S. energy independence, to commercial fishing, to wildlife, to tourism and to jobs.
Any settlement deal must hold polluters accountable and direct dollars toward restoration. Anything less means that taxpayers will be making up the difference for years. And that’s simply unacceptable.
- Settle the BP Oil Spill Litigation? Maybe, But Let’s Not Let BP Shortchange the Gulf Yet Again (National Wildlife Federation’s Wildlife Promise blog)