BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - A federal judge has ruled that BP's reckless conduct resulted in the nation's worst offshore oil spill, leaving the company open to billions of dollars in penalties.So if we had to put a number on "gross negligence" would 67 percent meet the threshold?
U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier's ruling Thursday could nearly quadruple the amount of civil penalties for polluting the Gulf of Mexico with oil from BP's Macondo well in 2010.
Barbier presided over a trial in 2013 to apportion blame for the spill that spewed oil from April 20 to mid-July 2010. Eleven men died when the well blew wild; BP already has agreed to billions of dollars in criminal fines.
Barbier says BP bears 67 percent of the blame for the spill. He says drilling rig owner Transocean Ltd. takes 30 percent of the blame, and cement contractor Halliburton Energy Service takes 3 percent.
Update: More from the Advocate:
Under the Clean Water Act, a polluter can be forced to pay a maximum of either $1,100 or $4,300 per barrel of spilled oil. The higher limit applies if the company is found grossly negligent — as BP was in Barbier’s ruling. But penalties can be assessed at amounts lower than those caps.So this is a good start. Things will continue to be complicated. Now comes the matter of assessing specific dollar amounts. Then the five Gulf states affected by the spill will split that take. Louisiana has already dedicated its share to funding its crucial coastal restoration plan. Whatever we get will be significantly less than we need. But it will be better than it could have been without this ruling.
Government experts estimated that 4.2 million barrels, or 176 million gallons, spilled into the Gulf. BP urged Barbier to use an estimate of 2.45 million barrels, or nearly 103 million gallons, in calculating any Clean Water Act penalties. Both sides agreed that 810,000 barrels, or 34 million gallons, of oil escaped the well but were captured before it could pollute the Gulf.