Nothing Much New from Feinberg


Well, the testimony of Kenneth Feinberg to the House Energy Committee today (Tuesday, July 27) was somewhat less than reassuring.

There wasn’t much new information, but the independent claims administrator confirmed that BP and the Obama administration are still hammering out their agreement on a $5 billion annual payment into what is expected to be a $20 billion fund. So far, he explained, BP has not paid any money into either that fund or into a planned $100 million fund to compensate workers idled by the offshore drilling moratorium.

Mr. Feinberg said he is “not privy” to those ongoing negotiations.

On the claims front, Mr. Feinberg said “you do not need oil on the beach” to receive payments, but added that he “will have to draw some lines” on how far removed you can be and still receive compensation. He also noted that claims might be considered based on “how dependent on natural resources” the business is. This has been his position for a while, drawing some frustration from businesses who would like to know exactly where that line might be drawn.

He also said that he expects his claims center to be up and running by mid-August, which he acknowledged is “already too late.” He also acknowledged that “all the talk in the world won’t replace payments.”

As for the actual claims process, he confirmed again that “his” decisons will be subject to appeal to a panel, likely made up of three former judges. If that doesn’t satisfy the claimant, said Mr. Feinberg, they can then go to court.

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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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