According to a report from 4WWL-TV, a judge from the U.S. Court of Federal Claims has thrown-out a lawsuit filed against the government in 2016 by New Orleans-based Taylor Energy Co.
Taylor Energy, which has failed to end the longest running oil spill in U.S. history, sought to recover $432 million remaining in a trust established to pay for plugging leaking oil wells in the Gulf of Mexico. Senior Judge Nancy Firestone of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims dismissed Taylor Energy’s demand that the U.S. Interior Department return the money, which is the amount still left in a $666 million trust established in 2008 for decommissioning Taylor’s oil platform and damaged oil wells 12 miles off the mouth of the Mississippi River.
Judge Firestone concluded that the government can use the money to determine if more can be done, or even to change its assessment of the risk. Oil has been leaking from the site 450 feet below the surface since a platform that Taylor Energy owned fell in an underwater mudslide during Hurricane Ivan in 2004. The platform had been connected to 26 oil and gas wells when it toppled.
"Taylor Energy is disappointed with the court's ruling. However, by no means is this question resolved. We are reviewing the ruling and will consider all options going forward," the company said in a statement Wednesday. "Taylor Energy remains committed to its role as the current responsible party and continues to advocate for a response that is grounded in science and prioritizes the well-being of the environment."
Judge Firestone ruled that, “the government cannot be held liable for breaching its duty of good faith and fair dealing . . . until 50 years expire.”
Last fall, the Coast Guard seized partial control of spill-response operations and now has contractors on the scene, trying a new method to cap the leak, against Taylor’s objections. The company argues in separate court cases that the Coast Guard and its contractor are hurting containment efforts.