The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

State and Nation

November 15, 2012

BP to pay $4.5 billion in oil spill settlement

(Continued)

The spill exposed lax government oversight and led to a temporary ban on deepwater drilling while officials and the oil industry studied the risks, worked to make it safer and developed better disaster plans. BP's environmentally-friendly image was tarnished, and BP CEO Tony Hayward stepped down after the company's repeated gaffes, including his statement at the height of the crisis: "I'd like my life back."

The cost of BP's spill far surpassed the Exxon Valdez spill in 1989. Exxon ultimately settled with the U.S. government for $1 billion, which would be about $1.8 billion today.

The government and plaintiffs' attorneys also sued Transocean Ltd., the rig's owner, and cement contractor Halliburton, but a string of pretrial rulings by a federal judge undermined BP's legal strategy to pin blame on them.

U.S. District Carl Barbier in New Orleans will have the final say over the settlement. He is also the judge who is deciding whether to give final approval to the $7.8 billion settlement involving claims brought by Gulf Coast shrimpers, commercial fishermen, charter captains, property owners, environmental groups, restaurants, hotels and others who claim they suffered economic losses.

Relatives of workers killed in the blast have also sued. And there are still other claims against BP from financial institutions, casinos and racetracks, insurance companies and local governments.

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