“Hopefully, it’s a recognition of the importance of safety,” Morgan City Mayor Tim Matte said of the settlement.
Matte hopes the settlement will help more people in the area get back to work. “We’re still very much oilfield oriented communities,” Matte said.
“It is my understanding that the fines are expected to be shared with the communities affected,” Matte said. “I believe Morgan City and St. Mary Parish should see some benefits (such as, coastal restoration projects including work on the Bayou Chene).”
St. Mary Parish President Paul Naquin said commercial fishermen were the main people affected in the parish and that the parish was “very fortunate” it was not affected more relating to the oil industry, he said.
Local state legislators also reacted to the record settlement.
State Sen. Bret Allain, R-Gray, vice-chair of the Senate Committee for Coastal Restoration, said, “I think it’s a pretty good precedent. Any money that we can get for coastal restoration is a good thing for coastal Louisiana,” citing the RESTORE Act, which allocates 80 percent of fine money paid by BP under the Clean Water Act to be used for coastal restoration. The money cannot make up for the deaths and damage resulting from the disaster, he said.
State Rep. Sam Jones, D-Franklin, said BP took a while to take responsibility and admit wrongdoing. “In other circumstances, they admitted wrongdoing earlier,” than BP did in the aftermath of the 2010 oil spill, he said.
“We still need to have the presence, and the work that they do,” Jones said. “Obviously, there are individuals that acted irresponsibly, but that’s not an indictment on the whole company,” he said. “We need to let the system work.”
U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany, R-La., stated in a news release, “I am encouraged the unprecedented criminal penalties and fines mark a significant first step in the right direction. However, some of the biggest liabilities – particularly the penalty that could come out of the Clean Water Act – are still facing the company.”
U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., stated in a news release, “This is the first of what I hope is a series of settlements that will help bring justice and resolution for a horrific incident that occurred off the coast of Louisiana two and a half years ago,” Landrieu stated.
“This is a tough and robust penalty that is more than three times larger than any other past settlement, and is structured in a unique way to leverage private funds, maximizing the settlement dollars,” she stated, “I am encouraged that the Justice Department is respecting the spirit of the RESTORE Act by sending nearly $2.4 billion of the fine money to the Gulf Coast and $1.2 billion specifically to Louisiana.”