The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana has approved the settlement reached between the Deepwater Horizon oil spill Natural Resource Damage Assessment Trustees (Trustees) and BP for natural resource injuries stemming from the spill and also a settlement of the Clean Water Act violations with the United States. This settlement is the largest settlement of environmental claims in history. The Trustee Council, which includes the Alabama Trustees, will now begin implementing restoration as laid out in its comprehensive restoration plan.
Under this settlement, BP will pay the Trustees up to $8.8 billion for restoration to address natural resource injuries. The settlement includes:
  • $1 billion already committed during early restoration
  • $7.1 billion for restoration over 15-plus years, beginning in April 2017
  • Up to an additional $700 million to respond to natural resource damages unknown at the time of the agreement and/or to provide for adaptive management
Approximately $296 million of the natural resource damage settlement money is allocated specifically to fund restoration projects in Alabama.  The Alabama Trustees also have the ability to seek additional funding from nearly $1.6 billion which has been set aside for Gulf region-wide and open ocean restoration.
Alabama will also receive a share of the $5.5 billion Clean Water Act settlement pursuant to the Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities and Revived Economies of the Gulf Coast States (RESTORE) Act. From this fund, Alabama will receive approximately $308 million under the Direct Component and approximately $269 million under the Spill Impact Component, as well as $22 million under the Center of Excellence Component.  In addition, Alabama will receive a portion of $1.32 billion for projects to be determined by the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council.
“We are pleased with the Court’s approval of this historic settlement and the resulting certainty it provides as to additional funding needed to continue efforts to restore our invaluable coastal resources,” said N. Gunter Guy, Jr., Commissioner of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. “We appreciate the public input and participation which was vital in reaching this milestone and again ask our coastal communities for continued assistance as we transition to focusing on the longer term restoration needs of Alabama’s Gulf Coast.”
The natural resource damages and Clean Water Act settlement approved by the Court are part of the global settlement with BP that also resolved the remaining economic damage claims of the five Gulf states and municipalities. Taken together this global resolution of civil claims is worth more than $20 billion. When added to the criminal penalty claims awarded to Alabama through the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation from plea agreements with BP and Transocean, the total value recovered for the state of Alabama for environmental claims for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill will top approximately $1.36 billion.