Your blog posting today is inaccurate and unfair. The Attorney General has been out front demanding the Federal Government be more aggressive in Florida and in particular the Panhandle in their response to the oil spill.
He has sent numerous letters to AG Holder asking to meet with him to discuss any and all possible legal actions the state and federal government could take against BP. As he said this morning in the media availability, we have not and will not rule out any legal actions the state can take on behalf of Floridians. Attorneys in our office continue to look into
potential civil and criminal actions we can take against the company.
The Attorney General additionally noted this morning that there is a possibility we could join the federal criminal case against BP. Also, last Thursday evening, in response to a request made by the Attorney General to AG Holder on Thursday morning, the Coast Guard will be deploying the first 20 skimmer boats to the area. While Attorney General McCollum is outraged that all they are sending at this time are 20 boats, they weren’t sending any to the area prior to the Attorney General’s request. In the same request posed to AG Holder, the AG asked that new technologies be explored.
As of Friday, the administration has agreed to convene an interagency work group to evaluate new technologies to mitigate the spill’s impact.
With all due respect, to say that all the Attorney General can do is “wail” shows that you have not been paying adequate attention to the actions Attorney General McCollum has taken. To bring you to speed, here is a brief summary of what he has done to this point.
On May 2nd, Attorney General McCollum met with the other four Gulf State Attorneys General to brainstorm possible options available to the states as they move forward. The Attorney General also had the opportunity to discuss potential issues with one of the lead private attorneys who represented plaintiffs in the Exxon Valdez oil spill litigation.
Later that week, he met with local business leaders in Pensacola and learned firsthand about the impact this disaster is having and will continue to have for the foreseeable future on their families and their livelihoods, often ones that have been handed down through generations.
On May 5th, Attorney General McCollum, along with other Gulf State Attorneys General, sent letters to BP, Transocean, Halliburton and Cameron regarding the devastating Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The letters request each of the companies that played a role in the construction and maintenance of the oil rig Deepwater Horizon to memorialize their commitment to fund the protection and clean-up of our coastline and provide compensation for any economic losses suffered on an individual, corporate, and governmental level. The letters also request the companies help facilitate the flow of accurate information between the Attorneys General and the companies by assigning a point of contact; and preserve all
documents, data, and tangible objects relevant to the disaster and its consequences until further notice.
During the remainder of the week, as the Attorney General toured the Panhandle assessing the effects already being felt in that area, his staff met with various Florida state agencies impacted by the oil spill and continued their direct interaction with BP on the emergency management and potential litigation fronts.
On May 10th, the Attorney General and the Governor established a “pro bono” legal advisory council to ensure that Florida has the very best talent in the legal community to assist the Attorney General’s Office as it assesses the impact of the oil spill on Florida’s economy, businesses and local industries, natural resources, and citizens.
The creation of this Task Force enables us to tap into the best legal minds in environmental, regulatory, administrative, energy, maritime, and consumer protection law – as well as other areas of legal expertise – to expand upon the resources of the many state agencies the Attorney General’s Office is charged with representing and begin preparing for any possible
legal response to the disaster.
Former Florida Attorneys General Bob Butterworth and Jim Smith, as co-chairs of this Advisory Council on the Deepwater Horizon Response, will immediately begin a vetting process and identify those firms, lawyers, and other experts who should participate on the council.
They will also be charged with convening the council as soon as is practical and collecting the ideas and suggestions of its members, including the following areas of focus:
·General courses of action to be taken now;
·Legal strategies and theories; and
·Data and information collection and preservation.
On May 18th, Attorney General McCollum sent a letter to BP America, calling on the company to make significant changes to the claims process by improving communication between the company, claims adjusters and Floridians and providing clear guidance to residents who need to file claims.
On May 20th, Attorney General McCollum sent a letter to BP executives, asking the company to immediately acknowledge its liability for any damages Florida may sustain during the 2010 Atlantic Hurricane Season as a result of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
On May 21st, Attorney General McCollum issued a consumer advisory warned Floridians that anyone requesting a fee to process a claim for loss or damage associated with the Deepwater Horizon oil spill is not an authorized BP/ESIS adjuster. ESIS is BP’s authorized, third-party claims administrator. The BP claims process is free of any cost to any individual or company filing claims.
On May 25th, the Attorney General sent a letter to BP regarding the company’s response to the Attorney General’s May 20th request that any damages caused by hurricanes or tropical storms as a result of the oil spill be covered by the company. The Attorney General said he was disturbed by the response and called it “at best, unclear,” and repeated his demand that BP provide assurances that the company will pay for additional damage caused by oil contamination in the event of a storm. The Attorney General also sent a letter to the company’s general counsel regarding the arrest of
several illegal immigrants who had been hired by companies subcontracted to address the oil spill response efforts. The Attorney General reminded BP that many local workers’ livelihoods had been disrupted by the oil spill and urged the company to hire locally whenever possible.
On May 27th, Attorney General Bill McCollum issued a statement on the federal response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill claiming the federal government is not doing everything it can to prevent further damage from the Deepwater Horizon spill. The Attorney General calls this unacceptable.
June 1 — Attorney General McCollum issues a statement after Florida was excluded from a meeting with the U.S. Department of Justice and other states affected by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Attorney General calls U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder’s decision to exclude the State of Florida from today’s meeting of Attorneys General on the impacts of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico “concerning.” Attorney General says the Administration has not demonstrated clear competence in responding to this unprecedented environmental disaster since the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig on April 20, 2010.
June 3 — Attorney General sends U.S. AG Holder a letter demanding he personally visit Florida and provide more assistance to the state’s mitigation and response efforts. Attorney General specifically calls for more federal assistance to be deployed immediately, calls for the federal government to encourage, evaluate and deploy new technologies, and calls
for streamlined command and control by establishing people in the affected counties with decision-making authority.
June 4–AG sends letter to the Governor asking for additional Cabinet meetings over the summer to stay briefed on the state’s response.
I’ve glad the AG is writing letters. The claims process isn’t working. The Vessels of Opportunities program isn’t either. BP is nickel and diming the counties on every expense and not approving components of the local action plan. And the local governments have only gotten $700K of the two $25 million block grants from BP and that was for advertising!
Tell the AG to quit blaming others, quit making campaign visits and get BP to pay up.
Deputy Communications Director
Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum