Comment Of Senator Patrick Leahy On Department Of Justice Settlement With BP Over The Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

[Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) issued the following comment Friday after the Department of Justice announced it has reached a settlement with BP over the deadly 2010 Deepwater Horizon rig explosion and oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. BP agreed to pay a record $4 billion in criminal fines and penalties and plead guilty to manslaughter and other crimes including obstruction of Congress. Three BP officials will also face federal criminal charges.  In 2010 Senator Leahy authored the Environmental Crimes Enforcement Act, which has twice been reported by the Senate Judiciary Committee, that would strengthen penalties against oil and other companies that violate the Clean Water Act. The act would also require restitution for victims of environmental crime.]

“I commend Attorney General Holder and the dedicated professionals of the Department of Justice for taking this important step toward fulfilling the federal government’s commitment to holding BP accountable for its actions related to the Deepwater Horizon disaster.  This action secures a measure of justice for the families of the 11 men who lost their lives aboard the Deepwater Horizon, and for all affected residents of the region. 

“I hope the settlement and criminal charges will serve as a clear signal to corporations that preventable harm to Americans or to the nation’s environment can no longer be dismissed as merely a cost of doing business.  Instead, the Justice Department’s actions should put everyone on notice that corporate criminal conduct will be aggressively pursued and punished.  As the Attorney General made clear in his remarks in Louisiana, the Department’s criminal investigation into the Deepwater Horizon disaster continues, and there is more work to be done.  I have confidence that the Attorney General and the Department of Justice will continue their work on behalf of all of the affected people of the Gulf with the same dedication that led to this settlement.” 

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