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Mar 9, 2012 6:20 AM by AP

Senate approves states receiving Gulf spill fines

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Senate has approved using the bulk of water pollution fines stemming from the 2010 Gulf oil spill to pay for restoration in five Gulf states.

The BP oil company could be fined $5.4 billion to $21.1 billion under the Clean Water Act, depending on whether it's found grossly negligent. The money typically goes into a fund to pay for oil spill cleanup costs and damages. That fund would receive only 20 percent of the total. The rest would be divided equally among Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida and Texas.

The measure cleared the Senate 76-22 as part of a larger transportation bill.

Earlier this year, the House passed a similar measure to divert the money. President Barack Obama has also called for disbursing the penalties to the states.

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