The federal civil trial against BP is scheduled to begin on February 25. A coalition of environmental groups have mounted a letter campaign to urge the government to fine British Petroleum the maximum amount possible for the Gulf Oil Spill. So far more than 100,000 people have sent letters.

Oiled sargassum in the Gulf of Mexico, 2010. [Photo: NOAA]

The federal criminal charges against BP have already been settled. This past November the DOJ ordered BP to pay $4.5 billion dollars in fines.

Under the RESTORE Act, the basis of the civil trial, BP faces from $5 billion to $21 billion in Clean Water Act penalties. 80% of those funds will help restore ecosystems, economies and communities affected by the 2010 oil spill.

The company and government may reach a settlement before the trial, but there’s no word on that yet.

The massive spill killed an untold number of wildlife. Some 7,000-23,000 birds died, and sea turtles, fish, and other marine life were also affected.

Scientists estimate as much as one-third of the oil from the spill may be on the sea floor, mixed with sediment, putting at risk the marine ecosystem and perhaps even causing potential harm to commercial fisheries in the future.

The explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon drill rig occurred nearly three years ago, but the social, economic, and environmental repercussions will take far longer to understand and address.

                                                                                

SPEAK UP: To send a letter to the DOJ, click here.

                                                                                 

Source: AUDUBON.

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