BP oil spill

In a New Orleans courtroom this week, BP and the federal government are arguing over how much oil gushed into the Gulf of Mexico after the Deepwater Horizon explosion in 2010.

Oil flowed from the out-of-control well for nearly three months. Just how much oil spilled will be key in determining the amount BP will have to pay in federal fines and penalties.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block.

A federal judge has ordered the administrator of a multibillion-dollar settlement over BP's 2010 Gulf oil spill to immediately suspend making settlement offers and payments to some businesses that claim the company's 2010 oil spill cost them money.

U.S. District Carl Barbier issued Thursday's order a day after an appeals court reversed his rulings in a dispute between BP and plaintiffs' attorneys over the settlement's formula for compensating businesses.

BP is in the second phase of a month-long civil trial in New Orleans over its 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The company is denying allegations that it misled officials about how much oil was gushing out of its blown-out well.

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Officials from BP, formerly British Petroleum, will be back in a New Orleans courtroom next week. It's part of a complex federal case that will ultimately determine responsibility in damages for the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history. And that's the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. NPR's Debbie Elliott's been following the trial and joins us. Deb, thanks for being with us.

DEBBIE ELLIOTT, BYLINE: Glad to be here.

SIMON: Remind us of what's at stake in this phase of the case.

BP is fighting the settlement it agreed to last summer that let the oil company avoid thousands of potential lawsuits over the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Just after the spill, when oil was still gushing into the Gulf, BP touted the $20 billion it set aside for claims. But now it says the claim process is corrupt and is hoping a court will overturn the settlement that established the claims fund.

Ending the claims would mean stopping a well-oiled machine.

Five states and leaders of several federal agencies have unanimously approved a blueprint to repair the Gulf of Mexico with BP fines pending over the 2010 oil spill. Governor Bobby Jindal’s comments in New Orleans about BP and his support for Mississippi River diversions drew immediate criticism.

The federal Commerce Secretary is presiding at a meeting in New Orleans Wednesday afternoon on how to spend billions of dollars to fix damage caused by the BP oil spill. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal will be opening the forum.

The Coast Guard is releasing a plan today, devised with state and parish officials, about how best to respond to an oil spill.

When Louisiana officials unveiled the $50-billion Master Plan for the Coast, a 50-year program that could prevent most of southeast Louisiana from sinking under the Gulf by the end of the century as predicted, they knew one of their most important priorities would be getting reliable, long-term funding through Congress.

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