It ain’t over til it’s over, baseball philosopher Yogi Berra often counseled, but save for the molecular-level environmental consequences, a still-open public comment period, a consent decree and an eventual federal court blessing, perhaps in January, you might say the BP oil spill crisis is over.
The final, five-year tally: Call it $2.3 billion for Alabama, which gets $1 billion alone for economic damages. “In addition, the United States has lodged a consent decree that will allow the public to comment on the global settlement of natural resource damages and federal penalties, which if approved, will bring another billion dollars to Alabama’s coastal counties, ” Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange said last month.
There’s also the matter of the legal bill, which came out to roughly $138 million, representing fees for court actions, separate from legal costs stemming from individual and business civil suits. BP picks up that tab and Alabama gets $10 million from that pot.
Beasley Allen attorney Rhon Jones, who worked with the state to help extract the BP settlement, saw a lesson for Gulf states that had to work together despite a complicated mix of political agendas, varying oil damage and diverse economic bases.
“Any time you have a disaster of this magnitude it’s hard to prepare for it. You hope drilling safety will be improved as states are now more on guard, but with the budget situation the way it is, it can be difficult for a state to have the resources to guard against this kind of thing, ” Jones said.
Money headed to Alabama businesses from class settlements could still take another five years to arrive, Jones said.
Text by Dave Helms