The U.S. Senate voted to ensure that most of the fines paid to the Federal Government at the conclusion of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill lawsuits will go to restore the landscapes of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida and Texas.
The measure, passed by the Senate Thursday by a vote of 72-22, ensures that environmental fines paid by BP (NYSE: BP) and other defendants in the ongoing case, will be recycled back into the Gulf states. The provision is tacked on to a transportation bill that senators must pass, reported the Associated Press.
Although BP settled out of court with thousands of third party claimaints, the company can still face tens of billions in fines if U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier in New Orleans finds the companies grossly negligent in their role of the 2010 Gulf oil spill.
Roughly 5 million barrels of oil spilled into the Gulf of Mexico. Under the Clean Water Act, Barbier can fine BP up to $4,300 per barrel, or a total of $21.1 billion, if he determines its conduct was grossly negligent. Under the new Senate amendment, 80 percent of the funds will go back to the five Gulf states for restoration projects.
Judge Barbier has yet to set a new court date to preside over claims brought forth by federal prosecutors.
BP's American Depositary Receipts fell 29 cents to $46.82 in late Friday trading.They have gained nearly 10 percent in 2012.