The agreement states that BP owes $5.5bn to the United States as outlined in the Clean Water Act, and that this money will be paid out over fifteen years. BP must pay $7.1bn to compensate for damages to natural resources, also to the United States government as well as five states located on the Gulf.
It will also be paid out over fifteen years. $4.9bn in payments for economic and other damages was also granted to the states involved in the settlements. Over 400 smaller governmental entities were also included, and are owed $1bn by BP because of the recent environmental disaster.
$2.3bn has already been paid in compensation from BP, to both individuals and businesses, who have filed claims against the company, and will continue to pay, as these settlements total $4.25bn. In 2012, BP challenged the first compensation agreement in court, but the US Supreme Court rejected their challenge in December.
Other lawsuits are expected to also be filed, such as those from environmental groups. Criminal charges also may be filed against BP in the future. According to the company, the amount of money they have paid as a result of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill is more than $43bn, not including the fine they just received from the Clean Water Act.
One company has never paid this much in compensation in United States history. However, the compensation aligns with the egregiousness of BP’s crime, as the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill released 125 million gallons into the Gulf of Mexico.
It is considered one of the most destructive environmental disasters the United States has ever experienced, and eleven people died as a result. The money paid in environmental damages cannot replace the wildlife and ecological integrity that was lost, but if the fines are large enough, it may serve as an incentive for oil companies to make environmental safety a priority.