With the BP criminal settlement over the 2010 oil spill now pending a judge’s approval, talks are heating up to reach a deal on civil Clean Water Act fines. U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu is hoping they’re successful.
The Justice Department is continuing talks with BP over how much the oil company should pay in fines that could reach $20 billion. Senator Landrieu describes those negotiations as “very intense.” And she says she’s hoping a deal can be reached.
“The reason that I believe that a fair and just settlement would be better than a trial — although there are people that disagree or have a different view — is that I think a trial will take so long. Once you go to trial it’s several years and then you have appeals for several years," Landrieu said. "By the time the public would get our hands on any serious money we’ve lost so much more of our coast.”
Criminal fines totaling more than $4 billion are set to be distributed based on the amount of damage sustained. It’s based on the Restore Act, which Landrieu spearheaded through Congress. It calls for 80 percent of fines to remain in the areas most affected by the spill.
“The Restore Act really set a great precedent for the country. When there is a major pollution accident the areas that were affected should get the benefit of the fine, as opposed to it going to the general treasury and spent in a very diffused way,” Landrieu said.
BP is currently scheduled for its civil trial to start in February in federal court in New Orleans.