Mariano to BP: Settle oil spill lawsuit

Jack Mariano has one thing to say to BP: Enough is enough.

In a letter addressed to the British petroleum conglomerate, the Pasco County Commission chairman is urging company officials to drop its appeal of a potentially $18 billion verdict in a federal Clean Water Act lawsuit. Instead, Mariano pled BP to finalize claims from Pasco businesses, and allow all involved to finally move forward.

“The Tampa Bay region and Pasco County cannot afford a further delay in its recovery efforts,” Mariano wrote. “BP’s decision to appeal the ruling, and thus continue to delay the outcome of the trial, will result in yet another time delay in correcting and addressing the damage that occurred because of the spill.”

The Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico near Louisiana on April 20, 2010. Oil continued to spill into the water for nearly three months, in what the government estimated was 4.9 million barrels making its way into the ecosystem before the well was officially sealed in September 2010.

BP reportedly settled billions of dollars worth of claims, including $6.6 million worth in Pasco, according to The Legal Examiner. However, that’s just based on nearly 70 claims while a total of more than 1,100 exist in the county, demanding $105 million.

BP did not return a request by The Laker/Lutz News for comment, but released a statement last month saying it disagreed with the court decision that the company was grossly negligent for what happened on the Deepwater Horizon, and that evidence at the trial did not support the judge’s conclusion.

“The law is clear that proving gross negligence is a very high bar that was not met in this case,” BP said in its statement. “BP believes that an impartial view of the record does not support the erroneous conclusion reached by the district court.”

In the meantime, people and wildlife that call the Gulf home continue to suffer from the spill, Mariano said. He cited a University of South Florida study that found “injurious fish skin lesions” on animal life, which he said resulted from the spill.

“For a region that relies on its natural resources to help drive its tourism industry, such delays can have disastrous effects for us in the Tampa Bay region,” he said.

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