Lorrie Williams walks by a piece of marsh ravaged by the effects of the BP oil spill April 17, 2011 in Ocean Springs, Miss.
Lorrie Williams walks by a piece of marsh ravaged by the effects of the BP oil spill April 17, 2011 in Ocean Springs, Miss. - 
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This afternoon a federal judge in New Orleans signed off on a plea deal by BP over the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The company's going to plead guilty to 14 criminal charges, including manslaughter, and pay $4 billion in penalties.

Marketplace's Scott Tong has been following the story from our Sustainability Desk. Tong says this doesn't close the book for BP. They've put out a total of $42 billion to date, but ahead is another environmental lawsuit from the United States in February.

Three years after the oil spill in the Gulf, BP is still the largest deepwater driller there --  though the company itself is smaller than it was.

For competitors of BP -- ExxonMobil or Royal Dutch Shell -- they're paying close attention to BP's troubles, and the health of their blow-out preventors. Tong says,"When I've gone and seen these rigs, people always point to the blow-out preventor and they say, 'this is ours and we've checked it and it works a thousand percent'."

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Follow Scott Tong at @tongscott