BP Disaster Politics

Nelson’s Me 2 Press Conference

July 12, 2011


While Sen. Marco Rubio was in Pensacola garnering attention while listening from local and state officials about the BP disaster, Florida’s senior U.S. Senator, Bill Nelson, was holding his own press conference in which he criticized BP for saying it should not have to pay claims by businesses and individuals who say the 2010 Gulf oil spill still is causing economic losses or will cause losses in the future.

And to prove his point, Nelson has fired off an angry letter to Claims Czar Ken Feinberg that will surely frighten Feinberg to fix the claims system that has yet to work as repeatedly promised.

Dear Mr. Feinberg,
On July 7th, 2011, BP Exploration and Production Inc. provided the Gulf Coast Claims Facility with supplemental comments regarding the methods you use to process future claims stemming from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. In a 28-page document, BP pushes for limits on payments for future losses.

I believe this would shirk the company’s responsibility under the Oil Pollution Act to fully compensate those who sustain damages related to the spill. BP made a commitment. People are still hurting. And we don’t know what will happen in the future, plus there’s still claims in an appeals process and large claims that haven’t even been submitted yet.

BP doesn’t need to be protected from the citizenry. It’s the other way around.

At this point, we don’t know the full extent of damage to the Gulf Coast— environmentally or economically. Scientists are in the process of determining just that. Even today, more than 22 years after the Exxon-Valdez oil spill, Pacific Herring populations are not recovering in Alaska. The commercial fishing industry has sustained extremely long-term losses. We don’t know yet whether there will be similar damage to the Gulf.

You responded to BP’s comments by saying that you would take them “under advisement.” Please ensure me that each claim is processed on an individual case-by-case basis and that all compensable losses—past, present, and future—are fully accounted for. Anything less would be legally and morally insufficient.

Sincerely,
Bill Nelson

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