OVERNIGHT ENERGY: The aftermath of BP's criminal plea

STATE OF PLAY: Attorney General Eric Holder isn’t done with BP yet.

Holder, announcing a criminal settlement with BP over the fatal 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster, said more charges are possible.

“Our criminal investigation remains ongoing – and we’ll continue to follow all credible leads and pursue any charges that are warranted,” he said at a New Orleans press conference Thursday.

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Holder also noted the ongoing federal civil case over the spill, which could bring billions of dollars in additional penalties.

Click here for more on the settlement and new criminal charges against two BP supervisors on the Deepwater Horizon rig and a former executive.

Cheers, jeers for settlement: The $4 billion criminal settlement is the largest in U.S. history.

But the Sierra Club and Public Citizen called it a slap on the wrist for the London-based oil giant.

“We’re stunned. This settlement is pathetic,” said Tyson Slocum, director of Public Citizen’s energy program, arguing it won’t serve as a deterrent.

“The government must impose more meaningful sanctions. Nothing in this settlement stops BP from continuing to get federal contracts and leases,” he said.

Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) called it a “major step forward” but not the end of the road, a sentiment shared by several other lawmakers who praised the deal.

“The Department of Justice must hold BP fully accountable as they continue negotiating civil penalties that will be divided among the Gulf Coast States under the RESTORE Act, and this admission of criminal guilt by BP should make it clear that Clean Water Act civil fines served against them should be the highest allowed by law,” he said.

The RESTORE Act refers to the recently enacted law requiring that 80 percent of Clean Water Act penalties collected from the spill are steered to Gulf Coast states.


NEWS BITES:

Whitfield to Wyden: Let’s talk

House Energy and Power subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) believes there’s common ground to be found with Senate Democrats on energy.

Whitfield’s panel and the full House passed a suite of bills to roll back regulations on power plants and other sources, but they haven’t advanced in the upper chamber.

But the Kentucky Republican said he wants to “sit down and explore some areas of common interest” with Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), who will head the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee next year.

Whitfield, speaking at an event hosted by Politico, said areas of compromise could include energy efficiency, power reliability, and permit processing for grid and pipeline projects. 

Coal company will halt 'mountaintop removal' mining

Patriot Coal agreed to end "mountaintop removal" coal mining in Appalachia Thursday in a settlement of water pollution lawsuits filed by environmental groups.

The deal forbids Patriot from applying for new large-scale surface mining projects, news reports said. It also will retire mountaintop-mining infrastructure by 2015.

Mountaintop removal is a type of strip mining in which companies blow the tops off peaks in order to access coal seams beneath. The rock, soil and other debris is pushed into adjacent valleys, often burying small streams.

Patriot will reduce its current surface-mining activities from 6.5 million tons in 2014 to 3 million tons in 2018. In exchange, Patriot will get an extension for installing pollution-control equipment at some of its West Virginia mines.

The Sierra Club, one of three environmental groups to sue the company, applauded the settlement.

“This is an historic moment for people hardest hit by mountaintop removal coal mining,” Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune said in a Thursday statement.


Coming Friday: Energy in Obama's second term

A Friday panel will discuss the various paths energy policy might take during President Obama’s second term.

Energy Central’s EnergyBiz is hosting the briefing at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. The conversation will touch on oil-and-gas production, regulation, nuclear power and renewable energy.

Speakers include: Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.), House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on Energy and Power chairman; Dan Reicher, former Obama transition team member and former director of climate change and energy with Google; Bud Albright, former undersecretary for the Energy Department and former staff director for House Energy and Commerce; and former Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Va.).


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

Check out these stories that ran on E2-Wire Thursday ...  

– Senate advances sportsmen's bill

– Sen. Murkowski floats five-year phaseout of wind credit

– GOP House energy leader does not expect to change biofuel rule

– House GOP leaders pledge to oppose climate change ‘tax’

– Sen. Wyden sees 'third path' on offshore drilling royalties

– BP, US reach $4.5B settlement for Gulf spill

– CFTC appeals court decision to halt derivatives rules


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