BP will pay the largest criminal settlement in U.S. history for belching 4.9 million barrels of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico. Reuters is reporting that the settlement will be $4.5 billion in addition to the $20 billion it will pay businesses and individuals in the Gulf region and the $7.8 billion as part of another settlement that has yet to be approved. The money won't bring back the marine life that continues to be extinguished by the largest oil spill in the country's history, nor will pleading guilty to 11 felonies for the 11 people who died in the Deepwater Horizon explosion bring real solace to the victims' families. But the settlement may save BP: the company's stock price jumped 1% today on news that the company may finally begin putting this behind them and go back to the business of merely poisoning the air.

The settlement will not indemnify the company to future federal civil litigation. BP is a considerably smaller company that it was when the spill occurred in 2010: according to the Times it is in the process of selling assets worth $38 billion to raise money to pay for spill-related claims.

Two BP employees will also plead guilty to manslaughter charges for the deaths of workers who perished when the well exploded. It's unclear who those employees are, but they aren't likely to be the company managers whose bonuses depended on speedy, cheap well production.

"It just bothers me so bad when I see the commercials on TV and they brag about how the Gulf is back, but they never say anything about the 11 lives that were lost," Nelda Wilslette told the AP. Winslette's grandson, Adam Weise, died in the well explosion. "They want us to forget about it, but they don't know what they've done to the families that lost someone."

In a statement, Mark Floegel, a senior investigator from Greenpeace, called the settlement a "slap on the wrist." “This proposed settlement would not protect the innocent. Nothing in this proposed settlement gives any oil company incentive to be more careful in future operations. Cutting corners and skimping on safety will still be the rule of the day."

Indeed, BP is far from finished with the Gulf of Mexico. "The gulf remains a very important part of our future,” BP CEO Robert Dudley told the Times in February. “Our belief has always been that it’s better to cooperate and try to restore the Gulf Coast, because that’s where we want to operate."