I burned one of my freebies on this one, I should at least get a blog post out of it:
BP will provide $1 billion for early oil spill restoration efforts in the Gulf of Mexico in a voluntary agreement with the federal government and five states, company and government officials announced on Thursday.
The agreement, the largest of its kind in an oil pollution case, does not absolve BP of legal liability for the explosion and spill that occurred April 20, 2010, or from the costs of any additional economic and environmental damages. The company faces fines and penalties of as much as $21 billion as a result of the disaster, the worst offshore drilling accident in United States history. The company could face additional penalties under a Justice Department criminal and civil investigation.
The advance payment, to be divided among the states and the two lead federal agencies overseeing restoration efforts, will be used to rebuild coastal marshes, replenish damaged beaches, conserve ocean habitat and restore barrier islands.
The $1 billion does not represent the governments’ estimate of the ultimate environmental cost of the explosion and spill, which poured nearly five million barrels of oil into the gulf over 87 days last year. Federal and state officials are conducting a review known as a natural resource damage assessment to measure the injury to the gulf habitat and devise a plan for restoring it, a process that generally takes years. Any restoration efforts financed by the $1 billion will count toward the company’s final liability, officials said.