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Environmental "Trial of the Century" to Start Today

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 25, 2013

PORTLAND, Maine - Billions of dollars and the health of the Gulf Coast are on the line as the trial against BP begins today 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 of the National Audubon Society said 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," Moore declared. "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 blowout in 2010 leaked an estimated 170 million gallons of oil into the Gulf, making it the largest environmental disaster in the country's history.

John Kostyack with the National Wildlife Federation said his 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, and the risk that they will continue business as usual if their bottom line is not affected by any settlement," Kostyack said.

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 have said efforts by BP to cut costs and save time led to the big oil spill.

Mark Scheerer, Public News Service - ME