BP reaches $18.7-billion agreement to settle Gulf of Mexico oil spill

BP has reached an $18.7-billion agreement resolving all federal and local government claims stemming from the 2010 Gulf of Mexico disaster, bringing an end to a key chapter in the fiercely fought litigation stemming from the nation’s worst oil spill.

The agreement comes as federal Judge Carl Barbier in New Orleans was preparing to rule on how much BP would have to pay in penalties for violating the federal Clean Water Act. As part of the ongoing suits, the judge had already ruled that about 134 million gallons of oil spilled into the Gulf after the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded and sank in April 2010 until the well was finally capped almost three months later.

The disaster polluted beaches along the Gulf of Mexico, threatened wildlife and severely damaged the local economies, especially those based on fishing and tourism. It also raised questions about the safety of offshore drilling, an issue still being pursued by environmental activists who point to the Gulf spill to back their fears of  drilling off of other coasts including Alaska's.

The money, to be paid on a schedule that stretches up to 18 years, would be the largest settlement ever paid to resolve environmental claims. If approved by the court, the funds would be used to end claims from the U.S. government, five state governments -- Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas -- and from more than 400 local governments and agencies.

Read the entire article at LAtimes.com