WASHINGTON – The Obama administration created a “monster” by helping set up the Gulf Coast Claims Facility, or GCCF, and must push it to process oil spill claims faster, U.S. Rep. Jo Bonner, R-Mobile, told U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.
In a hearing before a House Appropriations subcommittee Tuesday, Bonner said the claims facility’s own data shows that it processed merely four claims in Mobile and Baldwin counties the previous week. Some 93,000 spill claims remain and, at the rate of four claims per week, it would take nearly 450 years to process them all.
“In the opinion of this member, who represents Mobile, Alabama, and the coastal counties of my state, the GCCF has been a dismal failure,” Bonner said. “Despite continued and direct engagement with Mr. (Ken) Feinberg to address the systematic shortcomings of his organization, there appears to be no improvement on the horizon. And consistency and transparency remain problematic.”
Amy Weiss, a spokeswoman for Feinberg, the claims czar, declined to comment on the exchange in the subcommittee but noted in an e-mail that Feinberg had a “very constructive” conference call on Friday with Bonner, Gov. Robert Bentley and Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange.
Holder told Bonner the “450-year time period that you have indicated is obviously unacceptable,” adding that he believes the claims facility can and should work more quickly.
“It affects maybe most directly the people on the Gulf Coast,” Holder said. “But the reality is this is a national issue, and that’s why it requires a national response. And I can assure you that the Justice Department, (Associate Attorney General) Tom Perrelli and others, will stay focused on this issue.”