NEW ORLEANS (AP) _ Officials in Florida, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana have announced an $18.7 billion settlement with BP that resolves years of litigation over the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
Thursday’s settlement announcement comes as a federal judge was preparing to rule on how much BP owed in federal Clean Water Act penalties after well over 125 million gallons of oil spewed into the Gulf.
BP has said its spill-related costs already exceed $42 billion _ even without the Clean Water Act fine. It’s also unclear how much BP will end up paying under a 2012 settlement with individuals and businesses claiming spill-related losses.
The spill resulted from the April 20, 2010, explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig, which killed 11 workers.
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi says the settlement with oil company BP prevents going down a “black hole” of litigation.
During a news conference at the Port of Tampa on Thursday, Bondi announced the settlement terms. Florida is receiving the most money of any state, $3.25 billion.
In early 2016, Florida will receive the first of the funds, more than $400 million for economic losses. Three-quarters of that money will go to Triumph Gulf Coast, a trust fund set up by the Legislature, to help the eight counties in the Florida Panhandle that were most affected by the spill. The final 25
percent of the money will be distributed by the Legislature.
The remaining funds will be distributed over the next 17 years.