In a bit of good news, it appears that politicians from several Gulf Coast states are pushing back against a possible settlement between the Department of Justice and BP that would take away control of fines from the states and give it to the federal government instead.
A bipartisan group of eight U.S. senators wrote a letter urging President Barack Obama not to compromise the Restore Act, which directs 80 percent of Clean Water Act penalties to the states that were directly harmed by the 2010 oil spill.
The group of Gulf Coast senators said they have serious concerns about the settlement terms. The senators said that they were troubled that the administration was acting in opposition to the clear terms of the Restore Act, something which clearly showed the will of Congress.
The letter was signed by Democratic senators Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Bill Nelson of Florida, as well as Republican senators Richard Shelby and Jeff Sessions of Alabama, Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker of Mississippi, Marco Rubio of Florida and John Cornyn of Texas. The only Gulf Coast senators not signing the letter were Republicans Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas and David Vitter of Louisiana.
The group insists that the potential deal shifting control to the federal government would save BP billions of dollars in taxes, since National Resource Damage Act (NRDA) fines (which the federal government is proposing) are deductible while Clean Water Act fines are not. The plan also would give the federal government greater say over how the money is eventually spent. NRDA fines work their way through the U.S. Treasury and have very strict guidelines that discuss how they can be spent.
Also, given the nature of the fines, the settlement would dramatically change the distribution of the funds among states on the Gulf Coast. Louisiana suffered the worst environmental damage and, as a result, would get a lion's share of the money from NRDA fines. Mississippi, Alabama and Texas would likely come up big losers if fines were not handed out pursuant to the Clean Water Act.
If you've been impacted by the BP oil spill, don't hesitate to contact the Mississippi oil spill attorneys at Kobs & Philley at (601) 856-7800. Currently, we are accepting VOO claims, claims for Commercial Fisherman, claims for Recreational Fisherman, claims for Personal Lost Income and Business Lost Income, and claims for Owners of Waterfront Property. Call us today to ensure that you are not left behind and we will fight to get you the compensation you deserve!
Source: "Senators to Obama: Don't shortchange the Gulf Coast," by George Talbot, published at AL.com.
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