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Federal Judge Approves BP Plea Agreement

NEW ORLEANS, Jan. 29, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Under a plea agreement accepted by a federal court today, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) will oversee the distribution of nearly $2.4 billion in settlement funds BP has agreed to pay to benefit natural resources on the Gulf Coast in the aftermath of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

U.S. District Court Judge Sarah Vance approved the plea agreement between the U.S. Department of Justice and BP. The payment will be made over a five-year period, beginning within two months.

"Our primary responsibility is to ensure these funds are applied to projects that demonstrably benefit the Gulf's natural resources," said Don McGrath, Chairman of the Board of NFWF. "We are going to be diligent in making certain the funds are used effectively, efficiently and transparently."

The plea agreement mandates that the nearly $2.4 billion be used to "conduct or fund projects to remedy harm to resources where there has been injury to, or destruction of, loss of, or loss of use of those resources resulting from the Macondo oil spill."

Under the terms of the agreement, Louisiana will receive about half of the payments "to create or restore barrier islands off the coast of Louisiana and/or to implement river diversion projects on the Mississippi and/or Atchafalaya Rivers." The remainder of the money will be divided according to a fixed formula among Alabama, Florida, Mississippi and Texas for projects in those states.

NFWF, a Congressionally chartered non-profit organization, is one of the largest private funders of conservation projects in the United States. It is subject to oversight by Congress and a board of directors that includes the heads of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), as well as representatives from states, non-governmental organizations and industry.

"NFWF has an established track record administering payments in criminal cases, and a long history of work in the Gulf States," according to a joint memorandum filed with the court by the Justice Department and BP.

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