Plaquemines Parish Coastal Zone Director P. J. Hahan holds a tri-colored heron after spotting the seriously oiled bird along Queen Bess Island near Grand Isle, Louisiana July 17, 2010. The BP oil spill has been called one of the largest environmental disasters in American history.
Sean Gardner—Reuters
By Sarah Begley
January 16, 2015

A federal judge ruled on Thursday that BP’s maximum fine for the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico will be $13.7 billion, far lower than the previous estimate of $17.6 billion.

Federal magistrate Carl Barbier found that only 3.19 million barrels had been spilled into the ocean, compared with the government’s estimate of 4.09 million.

The third phase of BP’s non-jury trial begins Tuesday, when lawyers will argue over the exact fine per barrel. After that point, the actual fine will be assigned.

[Reuters]

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