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Federal judge Carl Barbier today approved a $20.8 billion settlement, first announced last year, between BP and the federal government over the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster.

The April 2010 explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil platform killed 11 men and released an estimated 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico — some of which washed up on Gulf Coast beaches stretching from Louisiana to Florida. The spill caused significant damage to both Gulf state economies as well as marine and wildlife habitats.

As part of the settlement, Escambia County is expected to receive about $70 million over 16 years in direct allocation from RESTORE. Escambia will also be eligible to apply for funding from other sources of oil spill funding, including Triumph and the Natural Environmental Resource Damage Assessment programs.

“Today’’s approval by Judge Barbier means that billions of dollars for the largest environmental restoration effort in American history can finally be put to work,” said a statement co-signed by environmental advocates including the Environmental Defense Fund, National Wildlife Federation, National Audubon Society, Ocean Conservancy, and The Nature Conservancy. “Funding under the provisions of the RESTORE Act and for natural resource damages will now be guaranteed for the next 17 years. This is a unique opportunity for state and federal agencies to work together toward a more resilient Gulf of Mexico. If done right, investment in the Gulf can have lasting benefits for the region and the nation.”

The settlement includes civil Clean Water Act penalties as well as additional funding for environmental damages and other claims.

“While the funding will never totally heal the damage done to our residents or our beaches, it will help us to continue to move forward and make a difference in Escambia County that has the potential to impact our community positively for generations,” said Escambia County Commission chairman Grover Robinson.

“It is a historic day for Gulf wildlife and coastal communities,” said Collin O’’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. “Nearly six years after the start of the BP oil disaster, today’’s settlement represents an opportunity to finally achieve justice for the Gulf.”

 

The settlement finalized today comes after BP has already spent tens of billions of dollars on cleanup and other settlements. The London-based energy giant has estimated its total costs stemming from the 2010 spill will exceed $53 billion.

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