METAIRIE, LA – House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) today lauded a federal judge’s ruling that BP bears the majority of responsibility for the April 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster. This decision is a key step in determining the total amount of fines owed under the Clean Water Act – 80 percent of which will be directed to Gulf Coast states for the purposes of ecosystem and economic recovery.

“Today’s ruling is a crucial step forward as we work to secure RESTORE Act funds for the people of Louisiana,” Scalise said. “I’m encouraged that Judge Barbier agrees that BP was grossly negligent in the Deepwater Horizon disaster, and it is time for BP to reach an agreement that allows the families and communities affected to finally repair the damage that was done. The people of south Louisiana have waited long enough. I urge the court to move forward in an expeditious manner so that Gulf States like Louisiana can restore our coast, as we established in the RESTORE Act passed by Congress.”

In a ruling released today, U.S. Circuit Judge Carl Barbier determined BP to bear the majority of responsibility for the Deepwater Horizon disaster in April 2010, citing their “gross negligence” and “reckless” practices in the lead up to the spill. Under the Clean Water Act, BP may now face fines up to $4,300 per barrel of spilled oil totaling $17.6 billion in fines.

Last month, the U.S. Treasury Department issued an Interim Final Rule allowing for Gulf Coast states, including Louisiana, to begin applying for grants from the Gulf Coast Restoration Trust Fund. Scalise also met with members of the Coalition for Coastal Resilience & Economy to discuss effective ways Louisiana can best implement coastal restoration projects throughout Louisiana when utilizing the RESTORE Act funds. 

Specifically, the RESTORE Act, which Scalise championed through the U.S. House of Representatives and was then signed into law July 6, 2012, directs 80 percent of the Clean Water Act fines resulting from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster to Gulf Coast states for the purposes of ecosystem and economic recovery. Earlier this year, Scalise joined his Louisiana congressional colleagues Senator David Vitter and Congressman Bill Cassidy to push U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew to expedite the rule-making process so that RESTORE funds could be disbursed quickly. In November of 2013, Scalise submitted comments to the U.S. Treasury on the proposed regulations governing the use of RESTORE funds. On the one-year anniversary of the passage of the RESTORE Act, Scalise authored an op-ed emphasizing the importance of specifically utilizing these funds for the purpose of preserving eroding wetlands and coastline.