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Nov 15, 2012 6:27 PM by Erin Steuber

US Attorney General speaks out about BP settlement

BP will to pay the largest criminal penalty in US history. That penalty, a more than $1 billion fine, which is part of a $4.5 billion settlement in the crude disaster.

As you recall, the Deepwater Horizon exploded on April 20, 2010, killing 11 people. Over the next five months, some 200 million gallons of oil gushed into the Gulf. It became the worst environmental disaster in US history. Now BP is paying up, and an Acadiana man finds himself facing criminal charges.

"BP has agreed to plead guilty to all 14 criminal charges, including responsibility for the deaths of 11 people," said US Attorney General Eric Holder.

Holder made the announcement at a press conference in New Orleans: The oil giant guilty of neglect, misconduct and obstruction in the 2010 disaster, and that's not all.

Two BP employees were charged with manslaughter in the deaths of the eleven men who lost their lives, which included Blair Manuel of Eunice. One of the BP employees charged with manslaughter is 65-year-old Donald Vidrine of Lafayette. He was one the highest-ranking employees on the Deepwater Horizon that night. If convicted, he could face more than 150 years behind bars.

"There were some shortcuts that some people within their organization took that they shouldnt' have," said Don Briggs of the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association. "Not much different than if you decide you're coming up to a four way stop and you decide you won't stop, you'll just go through it. That could be a fatal decision for you."

But despite this unprecedented settlement, Louisiana is still waiting on a civil settlement that will help with recovery and coastal restoration.

"I just hope that there wasn't some trade off in negotiations for actually lower civil assessment for the Obama administration to get the criminal scalp on the wall," said Senator David Vitter. "I certainly hope that didn't happen because that would really penalize us in Louisiana."

"Our criminal investigation remains ongoing," said Holder.

So where are these billions of dollars going?

$2.4 billion is headed to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

$350 million to the National Academy of Sciences.

$500 million will be paid to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

All of this still pending approval by a federal judge.

 

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