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BP Settlement Would Send Additional $788 Million to Texas

Pelicans and many other species suffered in the 2005 BP oil spill. Credit: U.S. Dept. of the Interior.
Pelicans and many other species suffered in the 2005 BP oil spill. Credit: U.S. Dept. of the Interior.
July 3, 2015

AUSTIN - Texas conservation groups say the BP settlement announced Thursday is a big step forward giving certainty that the funding will be there to restore the Gulf coast ecosystem.

It comes just over five years after the BP Deepwater Horizon offshore oil rig exploded, killing 11 workers and releasing almost four billion barrels of oil.

BP will pay $18.7 billion to the five states affected; Texas' portion is $788 million. David Muth, director of gulf restoration with the National Wildlife Federation, says this is completely separate from the billions BP has already spent on the immediate cleanup.

"These monies are for the damage they did to natural resources," he says. "So, it's not to clean up oil it's to put back what they destroyed. Secondly, it's the punitive fine for violation of the Clean Water Act."

The settlement will have to be approved by the court. The agreement comes as a federal judge was just about to rule on how much BP would have to pay in fines.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott said in a statement that the money will allow Texas to "reinvigorate the economic and environmental health of the Gulf Coast." Muth says much of the restoration money will go to shore up Texas wetlands, coastlines and deep ocean ecosystems.

"It's an incredibly positive step," he says. "We've been waiting five years to get to the point that we can actually begin the job of restoring the Gulf and we're there."

According to Texas State Attorney General Ken Paxton, nearly $638 million in settlement money would go to restoration projects in the state. And some $150 million would help compensate the state for economic damages.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - TX