Making Sure Spill Victims Aren’t Short-Changed


There will be headlines today about the new Gulf Coast Claims Facility study that assesses future damages to Gulf residents, but meanwhile there’s a growing effort afoot to ensure that victims aren’t short-changed.

For example, Reuters is reporting about the state of Mississippi asking the courts to “compel” the administrator of BP’s $20 billion oil spill fund to correct “sweeping deficiencies and violations of law.”

Says Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood in a memorandum to a federal court in Louisiana: “Court intervention and action is needed to compel BP to cure its failure to provide a claims process that fulfills the requirements of the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, state law and prior public commitments of BP.”

The filing is the latest action by state officials as they increasingly break from the federal “Mission Accomplished” national narrative. Those arguments center on a lack of payments from the BP fund, a lack of transparency and a growing resentment that the Gulf Coast Claims Facility is acting more as an agent of BP than as an agent of its victims.

An interesting part of the Mississippi court filing is that, according to Reuters, it…used the fund’s own statistics to argue that it had paid out only a ‘paltry’ amount to claimants following the biggest oil spill disaster in U.S. history, which began when a BP rig exploded and sank in April 2010… in particular, the memo lamented figures showing that only 56 percent of businesses claiming an emergency payment received any money and said a lack of transparency made it impossible to know whether those paid were paid adequately.

The Mississippi filing is part of an ongoing drumbeat in the Gulf that states are increasingly joining local governments in rejecting the federal “Mission Accomplished” narrative.

Read the Reuters report here:

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Stuart H. Smith is an attorney based in New Orleans fighting major oil companies and other polluters.
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