The Tennessee House voted to approve a $2 billion settlement with the federal government for the massive, $1.3 billion spill that killed more than 1,000 fish, turtles and other aquatic creatures at a BP oil rig off of Aruba in 2011.
The $2.8 billion settlement is a victory for environmentalists and environmental groups who have long sought a criminal prosecution for BP, which was responsible for the spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
In a statement, House Speaker Beth Harwell, R-Cadillac, said the settlement will help reduce the risk of future environmental damage from the spill.
“The Arhuaca oil spill has left an indelible mark on our region and we want to do everything in our power to protect it from future damage,” Harwell said.
“It is vital that the settlement be approved quickly, so we can move forward with the process that will prevent this from happening again.”
The Arubuaco settlement will cover the damage to fish and wildlife that BP caused by the spill and will also provide a way to compensate those who suffered long-term injuries.
The settlement, approved by the House on Wednesday, was expected to be signed by President Mike Pence and then by the Senate, where the deal will need 60 votes to pass.
The agreement is the largest civil penalty ever imposed on BP for the Arubúco spill.
It is expected to help the company avoid millions of dollars in additional criminal liability and help reduce environmental damage caused by oil and gas drilling in the region.
The Aruba oil rig was hit by a ruptured well casing that spilled oil in August 2011, killing an estimated 1,250 birds and other wildlife and injuring more than 500 others.
BP was fined $1 billion for the incident and agreed to pay $2 million in fines and $1 million in restitution.