Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

For Immediate Release


Bill Snape,(202) 536-9351,

Miyoko Sakashita, (510) 845-6703,

Press Release

$19 Billion Settlement From BP Should Go to Gulf Recovery


As part of an agreement with the federal government and Gulf Coast states, BP today agreed to pay $18.7 billion to resolve lawsuits over the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

“While BP can write a fat check and think it’s putting this disaster behind it, the Gulf is still far from recovered. For the thousands of dolphins, turtles, birds and fish that died — plus the 11 men who died in the explosion — there is no coming back,” said Miyoko Sakashita of the Center for Biological Diversity. “Worse yet, the Obama administration has yet to implement significant reforms to make sure this never happens again. In fact, the administration has been pushing for more offshore drilling in the Gulf and the Atlantic, and fracking existing wells to maximize their flow. I hate to say it, but there’s a good chance we’ll see something like the BP disaster again in the not-so-distant future.”

The spill — the worst oil disaster in U.S. history — dumped some 200 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. Recent studies in the Gulf highlight ongoing harms sparked by the spill, including severe lung injuries that killed dolphins, near-record lows of Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle nesting, chemical dispersants found toxic to corals, and a “bathtub ring” of oil remaining on the seafloor.

“Every penny of this BP settlement ought to be going to recovering these badly damaged Gulf ecosystems,” Sakashita said. “And BP ought to be paying a fine that really hurts, rather than an amount that will barely affect its balance sheet.”

BP reported about $44.3 billion in profits last year and $52.3 billion in 2013. “While $18.7 billion looks like a lot, just remember that BP makes that amount in net profit every three months,” said attorney Charlie Tebbutt, who filed the Center’s lawsuit against BP over this spill. “These penalties are inadequate to deter a company of the size of BP from further criminal and negligent conduct."

Even though the federal court found BP grossly negligent for its oil spill, which set up BP to pay $13.7 billion in Clean Water Act fines alone, only $5.5 billion of the settlement is for water-pollution damages. Meanwhile, the Center has a case still pending against BP to force it to disclose how much toxic pollution actually flowed into the Gulf under the Right to Know Act.

“It’s finally time to learn our lesson from the BP spill and all the spills that have happened since then: We need to turn away from dirty fossil fuels to energy sources that are smarter, cleaner and safer,” Sakashita said.


At the Center for Biological Diversity, we believe that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature — to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants. Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. We do so through science, law and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters and climate that species need to survive. 

In Landslide 1,108-to-387 Vote, Maine Nurses Reject Effort to Decertify Their Union

"They thought because we were a new union, they could manipulate Maine Med nurses and overturn our 2021 election," said one nurse. "But we just showed them the door."

Jake Johnson ·

Dems Threaten to Subpoena FTI Consulting Over 'Blanket Refusal' to Provide Info on Fossil Fuel Work

"FTI's refusal to cooperate with this congressional inquiry shows that they have something to hide, which will reveal the dangerous ways agencies like theirs have promoted fossil fuel greenwash and misinformation," said the Clean Creatives campaign's leader.

Jessica Corbett ·

Bad Day for DeSantis as 'Stop WOKE Act' Hit With Injunction, Lawsuit

"If Florida truly believes we live in a post-racial society, then let it make its case," a federal judge wrote in blocking part of the controversial law. "But it cannot win the argument by muzzling its opponents."

Brett Wilkins ·

US Judge Says Mar-a-Lago Affidavit 'Can Be Unsealed' With Redactions

"This is going to be a considered, careful process, where everybody's rights, the government's and the media's, will be protected," declared U.S. Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart.

Jessica Corbett ·

Federal Judge Orders Starbucks to Rehire Fired Union Organizers in Memphis

"It was a ruling in favor of what's right," said one member of the Memphis Seven. "We knew from day one that we were going to win this, it just took time."

Brett Wilkins ·

Common Dreams Logo