BP settlement tops record year for US environmental enforcement

The following is text from a news release from the U.S. Justice Department:

(WASHINGTON) — The Department of Justice’s Environment and Natural Resources Division has announced one of the most successful years in its history of over a century, including the highest recoveries in environmental enforcement, record-setting recoveries in natural resource damages, and the highest criminal penalties handed down in individual vessel pollution case.

A key enforcement success was the final entry in April 2016 of the consent decree in the department’s record-breaking settlement with BP in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill litigation in which the United States and the five Gulf Coast states secured payments in excess of $20 billion to resolve their claims against BP. This settlement is the largest in the history of federal law enforcement for a single defendant, and it includes the largest-ever Clean Water Act civil penalty and the largest-ever recovery of damages for injuries to natural resources.

The division also continued its robust program of prosecuting shipping companies and crew for the intentional discharges of pollutants from oceangoing vessels in U.S. waters. At the end of fiscal year 2016, criminal penalties imposed in these cases totaled more than $363 million in fines and more than 32 years of confinement. And in December 2016, ENRD obtained the largest-ever criminal penalty involving deliberate vessel pollution when it concluded the prosecution of Princess Cruise Lines Ltd. The company pleaded guilty to seven felony charges and will pay a $40 million penalty.

The division’s work also helps ensure effective stewardship of the nation’s public lands, natural resources and animals, including fighting for the survival of the world’s most iconic species and marine resources, and working across the government and the globe to end the illegal trade in wildlife.

Click here to read the accomplishments report.

By Professional Mariner Staff