Ocean Conservancy Releases BP Settlement Statement
NEW ORLEANS – The Ocean Conservancy released the following statement regarding today’s largest environmental settlement in U.S. history – $18.7 billion in total for the five Gulf states; Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas:
Five years ago, the BP Deepwater Horizon oil disaster caused unprecedented damage to both the Gulf of Mexico's natural resources and people. Today, the U.S. Department of Justice and BP announced they have reached an $18.7 billion settlement agreement that will provide significant funding to address impacts from the BP oil disaster, long-standing environmental issues and economic damages resulting from the largest environmental disaster in U.S. history.
Shortly after the disaster occurred, both President Obama and BP promised to restore the health of the Gulf of Mexico, and this announcement is a significant milestone in making good on that commitment.
“Ocean Conservancy is encouraged by today’s news of a global settlement with BP, especially by the inclusion of over $1 billion to address impacts beyond the shore,” Bethany Carl Kraft, Director of Ocean Conservancy’s Gulf Restoration Program, said. “This settlement will help us achieve comprehensive, long-term restoration of the Gulf of Mexico. For restoration to be successful, efforts must address both short- and long-term damage in three key areas: coastal environments, marine habitats and wildlife, and coastal communities.
“From the BP oil disaster comes an opportunity to chart a new future for the Gulf. While a settlement is a vital step in the process to restore the Gulf, there is still much work to be done. Now our state and federal decision-makers must commit themselves to a transparent and science-based approach to ecosystem restoration. This is our best first chance to restore the Gulf’s ecosystem, and we cannot afford to waste time or effort on projects that don’t restore the vital natural resources that wildlife and coastal communities depend on to thrive.
“The settlement appears to include a dedicated restoration reserve of $232 million to address restoration from injuries documented after the effective date of the settlement. This is a critical element of the agreement because we don’t yet know what the long-term impacts of the disaster could be. For wildlife like sperm whales or bluefin tuna, it can take decades to understand the full impact of the BP oil disaster. However we are concerned that, given the scope of this disaster and the breadth of known impacts, that $232 million may not be sufficient to fully address impacts that may emerge over time.”