BP settlement needs to include accountability, restoration

Feb 29 Posted by National Wildlife Federation

This week U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier delayed the start of the trial over the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster to allow more time for settlement negotiations.

Any final settlement must hold BP and the other responsible parties fully accountable for the magnitude of the disaster they caused, and it must ensure that penalty dollars come back to restore the region that was harmed by the disaster.

Oiled Pelican Photo by Yuki Kokubo, http://www.yukikokubo.com Photo by Yuki Kokubo, http://www.yukikokubo.com
The gulf oil spill is the largest offshore oil disaster in history. The clean-up and restoration will continue for decades, and the full scale of damage won’t be known for years. To this day, oil persists in the environment and continues to wash ashore. The clean-up and recovery must not be shortchanged.

Furthermore, the fines and penalties must go toward restoring the region that was harmed by the disaster rather than being diverted to unrelated federal spending. The RESTORE Act, currently under consideration in the Senate, lays out a framework for restoration of the gulf. We support that legislation and urge those considering settlement to draw on the RESTORE Act for guidance.

An overwhelming majority of American voters—more than 80 percent—expect BP’s fines to be used to restore areas damaged in the disaster. It’s a matter of simple fairness that unites voters of every political persuasion from all across the country. And voters understand the importance of the gulf to U.S. energy independence, to commercial fishing, to wildlife, to tourism and to jobs.

Any settlement deal must hold polluters accountable and direct dollars toward restoration. Anything less means that taxpayers will be making up the difference for years. And that’s simply unacceptable.

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A slightly different version of this article originally appeared on the Delta Dispatches blog on the Restore the Mississippi River Delta website.

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