November 18, 2016 Articles

Which Came First, the Incident or the Oil? The BP Moratorium and OPA Causation

The inequitable application of the OPA as is seen in the moratorium claims contradicts public policy and should not stand as binding precedent.

By Allan Kanner – November 18, 2016

Following the Deepwater Horizon disaster, the U.S. government issued a six-month drilling moratorium and “permatorium” in the Gulf of Mexico in an effort to ensure that all available resources were dedicated to cleaning up the unprecedented disaster and that such a disaster never happened again. In re: Oil Spill by the Oil Rig “Deepwater Horizon” in the Gulf of Mexico, on April 20, 2010, 168 F.Supp.3d 908 (E.D. La. 2016). Known simply as the moratorium, this suspension was the center of extensive litigation as companies affected by it attempted to recoup their lost profits. On March 10, 2016 Judge Barbier of the Eastern District of Louisiana held that the moratorium losses do not fall within the scope of the Oil Pollution Act (OPA) (33 U.S.C. § 2701 et seq.) and as such, the companies that suffered economic loss may not recover. 168 F.Supp.3d. 908. Such a reading is overly narrow and contrary to the purpose of the OPA.

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