BP has agreed to pay a historic $4.5 billion criminal fine over a six-year period, after pleading guilty to 11 felony counts and criminal charges for the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster that killed 11 workers. After two years, the litigation is not yet over since BP faces damages from Gulf states and additional civil charges from the Justice Department.
Much of the fine, $2.4 billion, will go to Gulf of Mexico restoration, where 5 million barrels of oil spilled over 87 days. Even now, an estimated 1 million barrels of oil remain in the waters, with excess oil washing up on Louisiana beaches as recently as September. Oil-soaked pelicans and other wildlife continue to wash up on shores. The disaster’s other legacies have produced eyeless shrimp and fish with lesions.
BP has earned tens of billions in profit since the 2010 disaster. In the last quarter alone, BP earned $5.4 billion net profit, bringing its total for the year to $9.7 billion. The company retains $15 billion in cash reserves, and has also spent $15 million lobbying Congress since 2011.