BP has pleaded guilty to criminal charges and agreed to $4.5 billion in fines, more than half of which will be dedicated to restoration efforts in Louisiana and the Gulf Coast, according to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.
Thursday's announcement by Holder is a major victory for Louisiana coastal restoration efforts.
“… Under the terms of the agreement we announce today (Nov. 15), about $2.4 billion of the criminal recovery funds will be dedicated to environmental restoration, preservation, and conservation efforts throughout this region – including barrier-island creation and river diversion projects right here in Louisiana,” Holder said.
A Department of Justice fact sheet released Thursday notes that $1.2 billion of the $2.4 billion marked for restoration will be dedicated to coastal rehabilitation in Louisiana.
“Today’s settlement is a monumental step forward for the restoration of Louisiana’s coast,” said Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana (CRCL) Executive Director Steven Peyronnin. “Attorney General Holder’s announcement confirms that the Justice Department has the long-term health and sustainability of Louisiana’s coast in mind during the BP settlement negotiation process. It also shows that the Justice Department’s decision-making process reflects several key components of Louisiana’s 2012 Coastal Master Plan. The importance of this plan’s unanimous passage by our Legislature this spring cannot be overstated, as it is clearly being referenced by the federal government when it comes to allocating restoration funding.”
The overall fine of $4.5 billion is for criminal charges only, and does not include civil penalties, which remain to be settled between BP and the Justice Department.
The recent action is independent of pending civil fines associated with the Clean Water Act (which will be distributed in line with the RESTORE Act) and Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) process.
CRCL expects those fines to be much more than the $4.5 billion levied against BP today.
Pending court approval, the criminal penalty is a record in the United States for a corporation, exceeding the $1.3 billion that Pfizer paid in 2009 as a result of fraud charges.
The breakdown of the BP criminal fine is as follows:
Criminal fines to the Justice Department: $1.25 billion over five years
Fines to the SEC: $525 million over three years
Restoration funding to the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation: $2.4 billion
Research funding to National Academy of Sciences: $350 million
Also part of the agreement: BP will plead guilty to 11 felony counts related to the deaths of 11 workers in the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig.
BP will also plead guilty to a felony charge of obstruction of Congress, and misdemeanor charges associated with violations of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Clean Water Act.
About CRCL: the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana is a non-profit advocacy organization whose mission is the protection and restoration of a sustainable coastal Louisiana. To learn more, visit www.crcl.org or contact Scott Madere, communications director for CRCL at 225-767-4181 or