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Wednesday, May 22, 2024 | Back issues
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Judge Sides With U.S.|on BP Oil Spill Fines

NEW ORLEANS (CN) - BP can be fined as much as $4,300 per barrel of oil lost in the Gulf of Mexico during the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster, a federal judge ruled.

The figure is based on the Environmental Protection Agency's 2010 calculation of how much $3,000, the maximum payment authorized under the Clean Water Act when it was established in 1990, would be worth today.

U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier noted in his ruling last week that BP disagreed with the $4,300 figure, not because it thought the EPA's calculations were incorrect, but on the grounds the EPA lacks authority to calculate inflation.

"BPXP claims that [Clean Water Act] Section 1321 (b)(7) does not confer authority on the EPA or the Coast Guard to bring actions for civil penalties or make clear in any other way what agency has jurisdiction over the civil penalty," Barbier wrote.

The judge went on to say that because the EPA has been given authority over the act and has been given permission to calculate inflation, its estimates are lawful to use in the calculation of BP's fine under the Clean Water Act.

The fine will be assessed for each barrel of oil spilled following the April 20, 2010 explosion of BP's Deepwater Horizon rig off the coast of Louisiana.

Barbier ruled last September that BP acted with "gross negligence" in its actions that lead up to the spill. That ruling opened the door for BP to receive the greatest possible fine per barrel.

In all, BP could face up to $13.7 billion in penalties according the judge's calculation that 3.19 million of barrels went into the Gulf.

Barbier hasn't yet ruled on what BP is ultimately to pay.

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