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BP Oil Disaster Trial Set for Monday

PHOTO: Oil found in Gulf wetlands in 2012. Courtesy: Craig Guillot, NWF
PHOTO: Oil found in Gulf wetlands in 2012. Courtesy: Craig Guillot, NWF
February 22, 2013

NEW ORLEANS – Billions of dollars and the health of Florida's Gulf Coast are on the line as the civil trial against BP begins on Monday in New Orleans.

Based on provisions in the Oil Pollution Act and the Clean Water Act, the company could be ordered to pay $40 billion in damages.

Brian Moore, legislative director for the National Audubon Society, says it's important to make sure there are enough resources to repair the damage done to the Gulf now and in the future.

"We believe this is a living disaster and we still don't know the full environmental impacts,” he says. “And there's a single rule that we all should be reminded of – we’ve seen it posted in stores, which is 'You broke it, you've bought it,' and this is a broken ecosystem."

The Deepwater Horizon disaster in 2010 leaked an estimated 170 million gallons of oil into the Gulf, making it the largest environmental disaster in the country's history.

Attorneys from both sides had hoped to settle the case this week.

John Kostyack, vice president of Wildlife Conservation for the National Wildlife Federation, says he and other conservation groups understand it's important to secure the money from BP to fully begin the restoration process.

"The Department of Justice has a responsibility to set a penalty amount that factors in BP's assets,” he says, “and the risk that they will continue business as usual if their bottom-line is not affected by any settlement."

Because of the Restore Act, passed and signed into law last year, 80 percent of the funds collected from BP will go to the restoration and health of the Gulf Coast, but those funds are on hold until the remaining cases are resolved. Federal investigators said efforts by BP to cut down on costs and save time lead to the oil spill.


Stephanie Carroll Carson, Public News Service - FL