By Jeffrey Hess | Published 16 Nov 2012 06:02pm
Hundreds of Millions of new dollars are headed to the Mississippi Gulf coast now that oil company BP has settled its criminal charges with the federal government. But, as MPB’s Jeffrey Hess reports, this settlement is not the end of the financial penalties the company could face.
BP will pay 4.5 billion dollars in criminal penalties as a result of the deadly 2010 oil spill.
But coast attorney Robert Wiygul, who represents a number of the Mississippians affected by the spill, says a bigger penalty could still be facing the company when the federal government issues its civil charges.
“Civil claims for penalties under the Clean Water Act and for natural resource damages are going to be, I think it is safe to say, for substantially more than 4.5 billion dollars,” Wiygul said.
Wiygul estimates that the civil penalties could be upwards of 20-billion dollars.
Additionally, the company is still facing a 7-point-8 billion dollar class action lawsuit between BP and the businesses and people who say they were harmed by the spill….Wiygul thinks a ruling on that case could come before the end of the year.
More than half of the criminal fine will go toward restoring wetlands and wildlife, and will be controlled by the federal government.
Gulfport Tour boat captain Louis Skremetta says that is where the money should go to help the coast recover.
“We need to start looking how to restore our shrimping industry. How to restore our oyster reefs. How to better manage our wetlands and our nurseries down here. And I hope that this money will provide science and proof positive that we need to change this situation down here if we want sea food,” Skremetta said.
Out of that settlement money, Mississippi will be given 335-million dollars to recommend restoration projects in the state that should be considered for recovery funds.