OLBERMANN: That we know about the B.P. waiver agreement offering up to $5,000 to Gulf Coast residents in exchange for their signatures waiving liability before all this hit shore is due to the reporting of Rick Outzen in “The Daily Beast,” a contributor to the Web site, also the editor and publisher of “Independent News,” a northwest Florida alternative news weekly. He joins us now. Thank you for your time tonight, sir.
RICK OUTZEN, CONTRIBUTOR, “THE DAILY BEAST‘: Oh, it‘s good to be here.
OLBERMANN: All right. So, this B.P. CEO, Mr. Hayward, today called the waivers “an early misstep that involved a standard contract with the team we‘re using that was eliminated very early in the process.” Do you believe that?
OUTZEN: Not at all. These are guys that have already had two other huge environmental disasters in the last five year. One in Texas, a refinery that exploded there. Then we had a spill—a leak in Alaska that contaminated the tundra and a pond. These people know what they‘re doing. We have a copy of the waiver. It specifically cites the spill that happened on April 20th. This isn‘t something that accidentally was put into a packet of claim sheets like they‘re trying to tell us today. This was very—part of a—definitely, a legal strategy to limit their liability.
OLBERMANN: In addition to the waivers that would limit liability, there is this federal law that would cap the exposure to B.P. at $75 million, based on your reporting of what the damage is likely to be. I mean, my guess before is that‘s about one one-hundredth of the cost this is going to turn out to be. Is that—is that a relatively good guess?
OUTZEN: You know, “Reuters” late yesterday reported that they thought it would be $14 billion.
OUTZEN: Congressman Jeff Miller today, Keith, told the locals here in Pensacola, Florida, that he was going to work with the other congressmen from the Gulf States and try to get B.P. to put up $1 billion into an escrow fund to help local and state governments do the cleanup work. We‘ve got all our governments down here strapped for money, like they are all over the country, and all of a sudden, they‘re going to have to foot the bill for cleanup until B.P. puts up some money.
OLBERMANN: I understand, you got into a meeting that was held by Florida Governor Crist over the weekend. It sounds like that was as much fun as it sounds like from here. They discussed potential damage and B.P. And how did—how did that come about and what did you learn at that meeting?
OUTZEN: Well, you know, I was the only person asked to leave the meeting. It was prior to Governor Crist arriving there. B.P., who really dominated the room—they were about six or seven B.P. representatives in a room of only about 20 state and local officials, and the United States Coast Guard. B.P. came up and introduced themselves to everybody. And when he found out that I was with “The Daily Beast” and the media, I was kindly asked to leave. It was—actually, Governor Crist got me back into the room, I waited by the elevator and just sort of walked in with his entourage. So, they couldn‘t say much with the governor having his hand on my shoulder.
OLBERMANN: Is information from meetings like that trickling down? Are local officials being briefed? Are local resources, volunteers, being set up to be utilized to their fullest capacity as this thing becomes, you know, a shore problem and not just an ocean problem?
OUTZEN: It‘s really more of a sham. They tell us that they want our input. They have the Escambia County here, they‘ve put their best minds at it and they‘ve come up with a plan to keep the oil out of Pensacola Bay and the Santa Rosa Sound and protect the fishing beds. But they submitted the plan on Friday, and as of 7:00 tonight, we still have yet to hear whether the Coast Guard or DEP are going to approve the plan. Today, we had a town hall meeting. Over 350 people on Pensacola Beach, DEP, B.P. kept saying, we don‘t know what‘s going to happen to your beach. We don‘t know what it‘s going to look like, what the damage is going to be. But then they said, but we want your ideas. Please, give us your ideas. So for the next hour and a half, scared, anxious, upset people sharedideas about something that B.P. told them they didn‘t know what it was going to look like.
OLBERMANN: I‘m gathering—
OUTZEN: Nobody took notes, either.
OLBERMANN: Yes. I‘m gathering that the one congressman‘s verdict ofthis is chocolate milk coming inbound, probably didn‘t carry too much weight.
Rick Outzen, contributor to “The Daily Beast” at Pensacola for us tonight—great thanks, Rick.
OUTZEN: Thank you.