NEW ORLEANS - (Mealey's) MOEX Offshore 2007 LLC has agreed to pay $90 million to resolve liability and pay civil penalties under the Clean Water Act (CWA) to settle claims asserted against it by the government and five states over the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig and ensuing oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Feb. 17 (In re: Oil Spill by the Oil Rig "Deepwater Horizon" in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20, 2010, MDL 2179, Case No. 10-md-2179, United States of America v. BP, Plc., et al., No. 10-4536, E.D. La.).
(Consent decree. Document #08-120309-002X.)
Pursuant to a proposed consent decree filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, the Macondo well investor will pay $70 million in civil penalties under the CWA and invest $20 million to purchase land in states along the Gulf Coast to facilitate environmental conservation projects. The payment under the CWA is the largest civil penalty collected under the act, the agencies said.
MOEX Offshore, a subsidiary of MOEX USA Corp., which is owned by Mitsui & Co. Ltd. of Japan, is no longer an investor in the Macondo well but is a named defendant in a December 2010 action brought by the DOJ in the Eastern District of Louisiana. MOEX Offshore's settlement does not affect the liability of other defendants involved in the accident. Claims arising from the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon and oil spill have been centralized and consolidated in the Eastern District of Louisiana.
Under the consent decree, $45 million of the $70 million CWA civil penalty payment will go to the government and be used to replenish the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund. The fund is used for response actions, cleanup and damages caused by future oil spills. The remainder of the civil penalty payment will be distributed to the states. Pursuant to the agreement, Louisiana will receive $6.75 million, Alabama, Florida and Mississippi will each receive $5 million and Texas will receive a payment of $3.25 million.
The $20 million MOEX Offshore agreed to use toward environmental preservation and conservation will be used to purchase land in Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi and Florida, which will then be transferred to state governments, nonprofit groups, land trusts or other appropriate entities to ensure that the land will be protected from development.
The terms of the consent decree are not final and are subject to a 30-day public comment period.
The government is represented by Assistant Attorneys General Ignacia S. Moreno and Tony West in Washington, D.C., R. Michael Underhill and Patrick M. Casey of the DOJ in Washington and Steve O' Rourke of the DOJ in San Francisco.
Joe Nierman of the Office of the Attorney General in Austin, Texas, is counsel for the state. Louisiana Attorney General James "Buddy" Caldwell in Baton Rouge, La., represents Louisiana.
Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood in Jackson, Miss., represents the state. Russell S. Kent of the Office of the Attorney General and Larry Morgan of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, both in Tallahassee, Fla., are counsel for the state. Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange in Montgomery, Ala., represents the state.
Thomas A. Campbell of Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman in Houston represents MOEX Offshore.
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