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Judge rejects request to delay ruling on oil spill penalties

Deepwater Horizon

Deepwater Horizon

NEW ORLEANS — A federal judge has refused to delay a pending ruling on how much BP will have to pay in Clean Water Act penalties for the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

The request was made in a motion filed Monday by Texas lawyer Brent Coon, who represents plaintiffs with various claims against BP resulting from the spill. Coon had asked for a delay or, as an alternative, a low penalty.

Coon argued that a high penalty imposed before all claims are resolved would deter BP from negotiating with various interests who have been harmed by the spill.

U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier rejected Coon’s motion without comment in a Tuesday order.

Barbier completed the third phase of court proceedings on Clean Water Act Penalties in February. A decision is pending, and penalties could exceed $13 billion. The amount will depend on the per-barrel penalty Barbier applies, after having already ruled that BP was grossly negligent in connection with the Deepwater Horizon rig explosion that led to the spill and that 3.19 million barrels of oil was spilled.

The Department of Justice pushed for maximum penalties. BP argued for a lighter penalty, saying its response to the spill and the cleanup effort were robust, and it has already run up more than $42 billion in costs.



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