On Monday, October 5th the Department of Justice released the proposed Consent Decree to resolve civil claims arising from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. In addition, the Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) Trustees released their draft restoration plan, the Programmatic Damage Assessment and Restoration Plan (PDARP) and Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS).

The United States, the five Gulf States, and BP have agreed to the proposed Consent Decree that formalizes the agreement in principle announced in July. The settlement is global in nature. It resolves, among others, civil claims under the Clean Water Act and the Oil Spill Pollution Act. A parallel settlement referenced in the Consent Decree addresses remaining economic damage claims of the five Gulf States.

RESTORE Act

According to the proposed Consent Decree, BP must pay $5.5 billion plus interest under the Clean Water Act. The 2012 RESTORE ACT governs the Clean Water Act penalties for the 2010 Deepwater Horizon Oil spill, an 80 percent allocation of which goes into five “bucket” categories for the Gulf region. Projects completed under the RESTORE Act may include environmental restoration and research, economic recovery, and tourism and seafood promotion in the five Gulf States.

NRDA

Also in the proposed Consent Decree, BP must pay $8.1 billion in natural resource and human use damages under NRDA as part of the 1990 Oil Pollution Act. It includes $1 billion previously committed for early restoration. The federal and state trustee agencies (NRDA Trustees) use these funds to restore ecosystems and resource services injured in the spill. BP will also pay up to $700 million to address natural resource conditions that are presently unknown but may appear in the future or to adaptively manage restoration projects selected by the NRDA Trustees.

As part of the Consent Decree, the NRDA Trustees have agreed to an allocation of the $8.1 billion, distributing the payment through five restoration goals and 13 restoration categories. This approach is detailed in the draft restoration plan, Programmatic Damage Assessment and Restoration Plan (PDARP) and Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS). Under the National Environmental Policy Act, preparation of an environmental impact statement is required for major federal actions significantly affecting the quality of the human environment. The draft PDARP/PEIS evaluates a range of restoration approaches to enable tiered NEPA analyses for subsequent restoration plans.

Public Comment

A public comment period is currently open for the proposed Consent Decree and the draft PDARP/PEIS. It closes December 4, 2015. Public meetings are scheduled across the Gulf Coast to gather input on the Consent Decree and NRDA PDARP/PEIS.

Proposed Consent Decree can be found here: http://www.justice.gov/enrd/deepwater-horizon
Provide comments to the proposed Consent Decree here: http://parkplanning.nps.gov/doj/
Draft restoration plan (PDARP/PEIS) and public meeting calendar can be found here: http://www.gulfspillrestoration.noaa.gov/restoration-planning/gulf-plan/?utm_source=PDARP+email&utm_campaign=early+restoration+phase+IV&utm_medium=email