Alabama officials vow to fight BP settlement
Published: Thursday, October 11, 2012, 2:34 PM
By George Talbot | email@example.com
GULF SHORES - Alabama political leaders today vowed to fight any deal between the U.S. Department of Justice and BP that would shift control of fine money from the 2010 oil spill to the federal government, away from the Gulf Coast states harmed by the catastrophe.
State and local elected officials said that any settlement with BP should be consistent with the Restore Act, federal legislation signed by President Barack Obama in July. The law stipulates that 80 percent of any penalties under the Clean Water Act should be distributed to the Gulf Coast states.
The Press-Register reported Oct. 1 that the Justice Department was discussing a proposal that would shift more of the fines away from Restore and toward a Natural Resource Damages assessment, a move that would give the federal government more control over how the money is spent.
The legal maneuver also would give BP a significant tax benefit, potentially saving the British oil company billions of dollars.
"We believe that Congress has spoken and that Restore is a primary, effective way to distribute the money," U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Mobile, said at a news conference today in Gulf Shores. "Our concern today is that the Restore Act might be diminished."