"The largest environmental settlement in history": BP agrees to pay $18.7 billion in damages for Gulf Oil Spill

The settlement comes five years after the Deepwater Horizon disaster

Published July 2, 2015 2:27PM (EDT)

         (Wikimedia/U.S. Coast Guard)
(Wikimedia/U.S. Coast Guard)

At long last, BP has reached an agreement to pay for the environmental damages caused by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion, which killed 11 workers and spilled millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. And the oil giant is shelling out big-time: in a settlement with the U.S. Justice Department and the states of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida and Texas, the company agreed to pay an environmental fine of $18.7 billion.

At a press conference Thursday, Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell called it "the largest environmental settlement in history."

Here are the details, via the AP:

The settlement money will be used to resolve the Clean Water Act penalties; resolve natural resources damage claims; settle economic claims; and resolve economic damage claims of local governments, according to an outline filed in federal court. The settlement involves Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas.

"If approved by the court, this settlement would be the largest settlement with a single entity in American history; it would help repair the damage done to the Gulf economy, fisheries, wetlands and wildlife; and it would bring lasting benefits to the Gulf region for generations to come," U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch said in a statement.

The settlement announcement comes as a federal judge was preparing to rule on how much BP owed in federal Clean Water Act penalties. The judge had already found that 3.19 million barrels of oil -- nearly 134 million gallons -- spewed into the Gulf. Individual states also were pursuing litigation.

“It resolves the company's largest remaining legal exposures, provides clarity on costs and creates certainty of payment for all parties involved," said BP Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg.

By Lindsay Abrams

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