More Concessions to BP


It’s always reassuring to know that some mainstream media reporters are doing the heavy reading, and Ian Urbina at The New York Times wades into the deep end with a report on internal documentation from lawyers handing the new compensation fund. The docs include emails, draft and final versions of the protocols and other internal documents – they are important, in part, because the process was secret so we know very little about the politics.

Spoiler alert: The story is mostly about how all potentially responsible companies, not just BP, are getting off the legal hook if somebody accepts a final settlement. But, perhaps even more interesting, is when Mr. Urbina discloses that one of the most controversial provisions of the new claims system, basing payments on geographic criteria instead of following the Oil Pollution Act, was a concession to the oil company.

Writes Mr. Urbina: “In response to pressure from BP, he [Kenneth Feinberg] decided to include language in the protocols emphasizing proximity rather than language that is closer to federal law that does not geographically limit damage claims. BP also successfully lobbied to include language in the emergency protocol that says that any earnings or profits people receive from another job or other source of income during the period for which they are claiming lost earnings will be deducted from the final settlement.”

It’s already being challenged in court. We eagerly await even more outrage from Mr. Urbina who will not pull punches when it comes to the truth. He is definitely one of my heroes in this disaster. His article clearly disproves any so-called independence.

If you’re following the spill, and if you’re here you likely are, then this is required reading:

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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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