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Officials raise max fines for offshore oil spills

As of January 2015, major offshore oil spills could be subject to up to $134 million in fines under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990. According to Jennifer Larino for the Times-Picayune, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has changed the cap for the maximum number of fines a company is obligated to pay under the law in the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon disaster of 2010. The original cap was $75 million, but now companies could find their ledgers with an additional $59 million deduction.

The fines do not include any clean-up costs following the spill, for which companies are solely responsible. The cap is also disregarded if a company is judged to be in violation of the law or is judged grossly negligent in the events of the spill.

This is the first time that the fine limit has been adjusted since the law was passed in 1990. Should BOEM wish to raise it any higher in the future, it would require Congressional approval.

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