Written by Jen Finn
A federal judge in New Orleans accepted an agreement for BP to plead guilty to manslaughter and other charges and pay a record fine in connection with the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, which ranks as one of the nation's worst environmental disasters.
The agreement, announced in November, allowed a unit of the London-based oil giant to plead guilty Tuesday to 11 counts of seaman's manslaughter in connection with the explosion and fire on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the gulf. The company also entered a guilty plea to one felony count of obstruction of Congress and two environmental misdemeanors.
The company was fined $4 billion in connection with the spill and was given five years' probation.
Tuesday's court action ends the company's current criminal issues, but is just one step in the ongoing proceedings related to the disaster. Four current or former BP employees have been indicted on criminal charges. BP has separately agreed to a $7.8-billion settlement with lawyers representing Gulf Coast residents and businesses and could be assessed more than $17 billion under the Clean Water Act.
"Today's guilty plea and sentencing represent a significant step forward in the Justice Department's ongoing efforts to seek justice on behalf of those affected by one of the worst environmental disasters in American history," Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. said in a statement. "I'm pleased to note that more than half of this landmark resolution -- which totals $4 billion in penalties and fines and represents the single largest criminal resolution ever -- will help to provide direct support to Gulf Coast residents as communities throughout the region continue to recover and rebuild."
At the hearing, BP again apologized for the deaths and for the spill.
Read the full story at the Los Angeles Times>>
The following was released by the Maine Department of Marine Resources on Jan. 22:
The Maine Department of Marine Resources announced an emergency regulation that will support the continued rebuilding effort in Maine’s scallop fishery. The rule, effective January 23, 2016, will close the Muscle Ridge Area near South Thomaston and the Western Penobscot Bay Area.Read more...
Louisiana’s Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, which governs commercial and recreational fishing in the state, got a new boss in January. Charlie Melancon, a former member of the U.S. House of Representatives and state legislator, was appointed to the job by the state’s new governor, John Bel Edwards.
Although much of his non-political work in the past has centered on the state’s sugar cane industry, Melancon said he is confident that other experience, including working closely with fishermen when in Congress, has prepared him well for this new challenge.Read more...