Attorney General Holder says BP's conduct warrants huge fines - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

U.S. Attorney General Holder says BP's conduct warrants record breaking fines

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder address local and national media about oil spill plea deal. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder address local and national media about oil spill plea deal.

New Orleans, La.—The nation's top attorney, Attorney General Eric Holder, came to town Thursday afternoon to announce a record breaking $4,000,000,000 settlement over BP's 2010 catastrophic oil spill, and the indictment of some current and former BP employees.

"We have seen the damage, to lives and businesses, as well as to coastal areas and the wetlands," Holder said in a CBD high rise building.

Holder said he was determined to make BP pay a high price for the nation's largest oil spill.

In April 2010, the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig was turned into an inferno in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico, off Louisiana's coastline.

Eleven workers perished on the drilling rig, and BP's Macondo well seated on the floor of the gulf began unleashing torrents of oil into the gulf, sullying not only the environment, but the livelihoods of thousands of Gulf Coast fishermen and businesses related to the seafood and oil industry.

"There can be no question that this historic announcement represents a critical step forward, and underscores the Justice Department's determination to stand with gulf coast communities," said Holder in speaking to local and national news media about the settlement.

Holder said a 14 count bill of information was filed in federal court in New Orleans against BP.

"Charging BP with 11 counts of felony manslaughter, one count of felony obstruction of justice, and violation of the Clean Water and Migratory Birds Treaty Acts," Holder stated.

Holder said BP agreed to plead guilty to 14 criminal charges, including the deaths of the 11 workers who died in the fiery blast on the drilling rig.

"This marks both the largest single criminal fine…the largest total criminal resolution, $4,000,000,000 dollars in the history of the United States," said the attorney general.

"Perhaps the greatest tragedy is that the deaths of the 11 men aboard the Deepwater Horizon could have been avoided. The explosion of the rig was a disaster and resulted from BP's culture of privilege and profit over prudence," said Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department's Criminal Division, Lanny Breuer.

The settlement contains $2,400,000,000 to restore the shrinking coasts of Louisiana, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, and Texas, all states affected by the spill.

Also the two highest ranking BP supervisors onboard the rig that fateful night have been indicted by a federal grand jury. Robert Kaluza and Donald Vidrine are accused of negligent conduct in a 23-count indictment charging violation of the federal involuntary manslaughter and seaman's manslaughter statutes, as well as the Clean Water Act.

Former BP executive David Rainey who served as a deputy incident commander and BP's second highest ranking representative at the Unified Command during the spill response is charged with obstruction of Congress and making false statements to law enforcement.

"BP made a tragic situation worse, and began misleading congress and the American people about how much oil was pouring out of the Macondo well," stated Breuer.

Holder said the criminal probe continues.

"We will continue to follow all credible leads and pursue any charges that are warranted," he said.

Holder said they have been negotiating with BP in a separate civil lawsuit dealing with the amount of oil which flowed into the gulf. But so far they have not reached satisfactory terms.

"We have a trial that is set for February," Holder said.

"That could be up to $20,000,000,000 dollars that BP must pay just based upon the amount of oil that spilled into the gulf and the fact they were grossly negligent," said Dan Favre of the Gulf Restoration Network.

He said his group had not decided yet whether the settlement amount was high enough.

"It's good to see that BP has admitted to criminal misconduct and hope it brings some solace to the families of the 11 men who were lost on the Deep Water Horizon rig and the nation's largest oil disaster in which 11 people lost their lives does warrant a record high criminal penalties."

"Those lives are irreplaceable and there's nothing that we can do to bring those loved ones back. On the other hand this is an indication and perhaps a vindication that we have shown and the company has admitted that as a result of their actions people died there unnecessarily," Holder further stated.

He said the settlement is compelling on several fronts.

"Manslaughter has been charged, manslaughter has been pled to, I would that would bring some degree of comfort by way of explanation as to why those brave people lost their lives," said Holder.

None of the fines BP will pay can be used as a tax deduction, Holder's staff said.

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