Judge approves $20B BP oil spill settlement

Judge approves $20B BP oil spill settlement
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A federal judge on Monday approved a $20.8 billion settlement between the federal government and BP over the energy giant's role in the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. 

U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier of the District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana approved the settlement, The Associated Press reports.

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The decision ends years of litigation over the spill, which released 3.19 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico following the April 10, 2010, explosion at the Deepwater Horizon rig. The explosion killed 11 people.

Under the terms of the settlement, announced last July and finalized in October, BP will spend $5.5 billion to settle civil claims against it under the Clean Water Act. The company will also spend $7.1 billion for environmental restoration work, plus $700 million to compensate for still-unknown damages to natural resources in the region.

The company will pay $4.9 million to Gulf Coast states affected by the spill, as well as $1 billion to local communities. Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas will split that portion of the settlement.

The settlement is the largest with a single entity in Justice Department history.

The federal government sued BP over its role in the Gulf spill in December 2010, and several states damaged by the spill soon followed.

Litigation against the company has been extensive, and before the final settlement was announced, BP and its partners had already settled several claims related to the spill, including $1 billion in restoration work incorporated into the final deal.

BP had originally faced a Clean Water Act penalty of more than $13 billion, though the federal government would have needed to steer such a penalty through the courts.  

“The steep penalty should inspire BP and its peers to take every measure necessary to ensure that nothing like this can ever happen again,” Attorney General Lynch said in October while announcing the final ruling.

—This post was updated at 5:12 p.m.