Federal Judge Carl Barbier issued an Order Monday, July 27, stating that $1 billion of the $18.7 billion BP settlement agreed to in principle earlier this month be distributed within 30 days. This is money going to several hundred local Gulf of Mexico governments, parishes and other entities.
However, there are some holdouts, notably Plaquemines Parish. Their public information officer, Michael Anthony Powell, Jr., responded to the Examiner on e-mail and stated: “Plaquemines Parish stood at ground zero following the Deepwater Horizon spill and we applaud the State in reaching its settlement that will hopefully benefit the natural resources of the Louisiana coast. However, Plaquemines Parish remains uncompensated for its tens of thousands of acres of wetlands oiled and increasingly eroding because of the spill. About 40,000 acres of Parish-owned land were affected and 10,000 of those acres were heavily oiled.”
He added that Plaquemines Parish owns its land, and that because of this they’re “unique compared to any other county or parish affected by the spill.”
Further, he says that although BP and the State have resolved their differences, BP has not agreed to a settlement with Plaquemines Parish that fairly compensates them for “the damage and destruction BP inflicted on its property and the tremendous administrative and emergency resources the Parish was forced to expend after the spill. The Parish looks forward to amicably resolving its claim for damages against BP.”
Powell did point out that entities within the parish have accepted a deal: The Port of Plaquemines Parish accepted $155,000, and the Plaquemines Parish School Board accepted $10.5 million.
The $1 billion ordered released Monday will go to cover tax fees and business losses, among other expenses incurred by several hundred entities following the April 2010 Macondo well blowout, Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill. Over 210 million gallons of oil flooded the Gulf off the Louisiana coast; in the midst of this, copious amounts of a toxic substance called “Corexit” was airdropped in hard hit areas such as Barataria Bay.
The results of Corexit and petroleum exposure are still being studied by scientists and other researchers. However, such exposures have already been linked to an array of sicknesses (polyps, liver damage, weight loss, rashes, etc.) in Gulf residents as well as marine life and wildife. Thousands of dolphins, herons, brown pelicans and other species perished; the future impacts will continue to be studied and documented. Already threatened coral colonies of the Gulf have been impacted, too, with some of their typically peach-colored tentacles browned and sickened following the disaster.
Coincidentally this week, BP released its Second Quarter 2015 results and reports a $6.3 billion replacement cost loss for the quarter as a result of settling, in principle, “all outstanding federal and state claims and claims made by more than 400 local government entities arising from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill” and the additional non-operating pre-tax charge of $9.8 billion.
On July 2, BP Chief Executive Bob Dudley said that the enormous settlement was a “realistic outcome” and would “resolve the largest liabilities remaining from the tragic accident and enable BP to focus on safely delivering the energy the world needs.”
Read the Order from Judge Barbier, “Regarding BP’s Acceptance of Local Governmental Entity Settlements and Payment of Claims,” here.