How much will BP pay to compensate for damage from the Deepwater Horizon oil-rig disaster? One article in a three-part cover package on the disaster in this week’s edition of Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN) focuses on what promises to be a long, complicated federal trial — now getting underway in New Orleans — that will provide an answer. C&EN is the weekly newsmagazine of the American Chemical Society, the world’s largest scientific society.
Jeff Johnson, C&EN senior correspondent, details how Gulf Coast states plan to divvy up the restoration penalties from the devastating 2010 oil spill, which are expected to top $40 billion. Compensation will go toward a range of projects, from the purchase of ferryboats for economic development to an ambitious proposal to heal decades-old damage that storms and human activity have inflicted on the Gulf of Mexico. Multiple laws and court decisions, including the Clean Water Act, a criminal settlement and the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, are the basis for these plans.
The lion’s share of the money will likely go toward restoring the ecology of the Gulf of Mexico. States are lining up their proposals, including one from Louisiana, a decade in the making, to redirect waters of the mighty Mississippi River to rebuild barrier islands, marshes and estuaries. Other smaller projects vying for dollars fall under the economic-development category and include installing artificial reefs for sports fishing and a new research center.