The public is about to get a look at details of an $18 billion settlement agreement announced in July to resolve years of legal fighting over damage done by the 2010 Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill.
A statement from the U.S. Justice Department has says the agreement involving the federal government, five gulf states and BP Exploration and Production will be filed Monday. That will be followed by a 60-day public comment period, the next step toward final court approval.
The settlement would end battles over economic and environmental damage done by the nearly 134 million gallon spill. The spill followed the April 2010 explosion on an offshore rig that killed 11 workers.
This year's government settlement comes after a 2012 settlement between BP and people and businesses harmed by the spill. That settlement so far has resulted in $5.84 billion in payouts, according to a report filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in New Orleans.
The proposed settlement announced in July came after U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier ruled that BP had been "grossly negligent" in the accident, a ruling that set the oil giant up for huge Clean Water Act fines.
Terms outlined when the proposed settlement was announced call for BP to pay $5.5 billion in Clean Water Act penalties — lower than the $13.7 billion penalty BP was facing in an ongoing case.
But the company would also have to pay $7.1 billion to fix natural resource damage along with close to $5 billion more for the states to settle economic and other claims. Payments are to be spread over as many as 18 years.
Near the fifth anniversary of the oil spill, the Obama administration proposed a new regulation on offshore oil and gas drilling meant to prevent the kind of accident that caused the deadly explosion at BP’s Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf of Mexico, as The Monitor previously reported. It focused on requiring stronger blowout preventers, devices meant to close an offshore well in case of an accidental drilling breach. A blowout preventer failed at the Deepwater Horizon rig off the Louisiana coast on April 20, 2010, apparently causing the explosion that killed 11 workers and spewed 4.9 million barrels into the Gulf, according to US government estimates.