Financial relief could soon be coming to some coastal Orange County businesses who lost revenue during the 2021 oil spill due to the wave of closures.
Amplify Energy, the pipeline operator, agreed to pay a $5 million fine split between the county and the state for the spill earlier this year.
Now the company has agreed to settle a class action lawsuit filed on behalf of business owners. The proposed settlement still needs to be finalized by a federal judge.
The new settlement would require Amplify to pay out over $50 million to local businesses and residents affected by the days-long shutdown of most of Orange County’s coast in the middle of the 2021 summer.
To read a copy of the proposed agreement, click here.
Most of the funds will go toward the fishing industry, with $34 million set aside for impacted fishers, while another $9 million will go toward anyone who owned property along the waterfront and $7 million will go to any damaged tourism operations.
The exact funds individual business owners and residents will receive remains unclear, with plans currently being developed by lawyers, according to the settlement agreement.
The proposed settlement still needs to be approved by a federal judge, but if it is it will be the end of one of the largest lawsuits against the company.
A hearing to approve the settlement is scheduled for Nov. 16.
This new settlement proposal comes after Amplify settled lawsuits brought by state and county prosecutors in September, which yielded $5 million penalties split between the two entities, and a $13 million settlement with federal authorities last December.
The proposed settlement would also require Amplify to implement a series of new preventative measures on top of what their settlements with prosecutors require, including increasing staffing on the oil rig and new rapid reporting systems.
Noah Biesiada is a Voice of OC reporter and corps member with Report for America, a Groundtruth initiative. Contact him at email@example.com or on Twitter @NBiesiada.
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