BP has asked a federal judge to cap potential fines for the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill at about $12.3 billion.

The dispute centers around whether certain government agencies are authorized to raise the maximum per barrel fines for violations of the Clean Water Act.

In papers filed Friday, BP argued that neither the Environmental Protection Agency nor the Coast Guard have the authority to raise the maximum penalties above the $3,000 per barrel cap authorized by Congress.

The EPA’s maximum fine is now $5,300 per barrel, a $1,000 increase since the 2010 spill.

BP is facing up to $18 billion in penalties for its role in the 2010 well blowout that caused the largest oil spill in U.S. history and killed 11 people.

The company asked U.S. District Court Judge Carl Barbier to cap the maximum per barrel penalty at $3,000 before the penalty phase of the trial begins in January.

“It cannot be the law that 20 or more federal agencies all simultaneously possess the power to inflate the civil penalty amounts. That would be a recipe for legal chaos.” BP said.

The company argued that only the U.S. Attorney General has the authority to raise the maximum penalty.

BP has earmarked $42 billion to pay for cleanup costs.

So far, the company has paid about $28 billion for cleanup, penalties, fines and compensation.

Last week, Barbier upheld his ruling that BP is “grossly negligent” for the Deepwater Horizon spill.

Barbier assigned the company 67 percent of the fault for the accident.

Switzerland-based rig owner Transocean was assigned 30 percent of the fault and Texas-based services provider Halliburton was assigned 3 percent of the fault.

Barbier also refused to fire the administrator of Deepwater damage settlement claims Patrick Juneau after BP argued Juneau had failed to disclose conflicts of interest.


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