Attorney General Pam Bondi says she will file a lawsuit against oil company BP over the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on the three-year anniversary of the tragedy that killed 11 rig workers in the Gulf of Mexico and fouled 1,100 miles of beaches and marsh along the coast of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida.
Bondi said in a news release that she will file the federal suit Saturday in the Panama City division of the Northern District of Florida.
The lawsuit focuses on the economic losses suffered by the State of Florida. Bondi contends that Florida is entitled to revenues it lost due to the spill, including sales taxes, cigarette surcharges, beer taxes, among other things.
Florida is also seeking punitive damages under maritime and state common
BP has spent billions of dollars on cleanup efforts since the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded and a well ruptured April 20, 2010, spilling 200 million gallons of crude.
The oil fouled 1,110 miles of beaches and marsh along Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. Fishing waters were closed and thousands of people who depend on the Gulf's deep blue waters wondered if the coast would ever be the same again. Crews continue to find oil buried underneath beaches whenever a tropical storm stirs up the Gulf.
"Visually, the coast looks great, and I think most of what was visible is gone," said David Muth, director of the National Wildlife Federation's Mississippi River Delta Restoration Program.
Still, oil sheens penetrated deep into marshes, worrying Muth.
"The micro-organisms and the smallest invertebrates, they're all eating the grasses and eating each other," he said. "Some of those persistent chemicals just get built up, and as each creature comes along and eats it, the toxins can be amplified right up the food chain until you get to the top predators, like dolphins and sea turtles."
More than 650 stranded dolphins have been found since the spill, Muth said.
But those deaths started two months before the disaster and it's not clear what is causing them or how much the spill may have contributed. Federal biologists have said the one consistent thread was a bacterial infection.
Turtle deaths also are being looked at, but the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has said many probably drowned in shrimp nets.