Archive for August 2011
“David is not optimistic. He sees too many signs that things are not right with the shrimp catches so far. But what worries David even more is what he’s seeing—or not seeing—in the waters 20 miles offshore. He’s not seeing many small bait fish that snapper and mackerel–all predator fish–depend on. David says many fish bellies he sees are often empty, signaling they may be starving, and that some contain an unusual black substance he believes is linked to oil. Other fish David catches have lesions or strange markings that other scientists are finding too. He’s been unable to get authorities to pay attention to it. And some simply don’t want to, he says.”
And the quotes that make me angry:
“We’re damned if we do and damned if we don’t,” David says in a soft southern drawl that punctuates his decades of fishing in the Gulf. “Some people say we shouldn’t say anything about things that aren’t right so we can protect our markets. Others say we should complain so we make BP accountable. But from what I’ve seen around here, BP hasn’t been accountable for much of anything.”
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More oil in the Gulf of Mexico…
British Petroleum says it is investigating a new sheen of oil, but did not say where they have found said sheen. Nor did they say what is causing said sheen.
What they did say is it wasn’t found near “any existing BP operations,” oh, and they added “there is a lot of sheen in the Gulf of Mexico area” and that it didn’t necessarily come from a BP (Macondo) well.
But remember back in July, that sheen confirmed to have been most definitely found in the vicinity of the Macondo Well?
Stuart Smith sure does:
“Oil from the Macondo Well site is fouling the Gulf anew – and BP is scrambling to contain both the crude and the PR nightmare that waits in the wings. Reliable sources tell us that BP has hired 40 boats from Venice to Grand Isle to lay boom around the Deepwater Horizon site – located just 50 miles off the Louisiana coast. The fleet rushed to the scene late last week and worked through the weekend to contain what was becoming a massive slick at the site of the Macondo wellhead, which was officially “killed” back in September 2010.”
Smith goes onto quote a letter written by BK Lim, a prominent geohazards specialist for thirty years. This letter was sent to US Reps Fred Upton and John Shimkus:
“There is no question that the oil seepages, gas columns, fissures and blowout craters in the seafloor around the Macondo wellhead… have been the direct result of indiscriminate drilling, grouting, injection of dispersant and other undisclosed recover activities. As the rogue well had not been successfully cemented and plugged at the base of the well by the relief wells, unknown quantities of hydrocarbons are still leaking out from the reservoir at high pressure and are seeping through multiple fault lines to the seabed. It is not possible to cap this oil leakage.”
So, while British Petroleum is now being very careful to not say where the oil is, or where it may have come from, perhaps it’s the right time for someone to compel them to say exactly what the hell is going on…
Or are we going to have another war over flow-rate estimates, all over again?
Read the articles:
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Ed Note…BP and a Coast Guard official now say “the sheen was found near two abandoned exploration well sites in the Green Canyon Block in the Gulf of Mexico. According to an online map by the U.S. Department of Energy, the Green Canyon Block – a large square-shaped area of water south of Louisiana – is south and west of the Mississippi Canyon Block where BP’s Macondo well blew up.”
So…let the debate continue: is it 500 barrels a day or 36,000?
Now, have a nice day.
Ed Note, Part 2…Daren Beaudo, BP’s latest spokesman says no oil is leaking from the Macondo well and he denies any vessels were hired to clean up anything, per the report by Stuart Smith…as far as the sheen, “We think it’s silt from a subsurface shallow water pool,” Beaudo said.
So…let the debate continue: is it 5000 barrels a day or 46,000?
That certainly is an answer.
Now, now, have a nice day.
Feinberg just changed the rules again.
On Tuesday, he added a rules modification to the GCCF claims process, designed to tighten payout criteria. “It is clear, that as time passes, it becomes increasingly difficult to determine whether changes in revenue and earnings are due to the oil spill or other factors,” the notice said.
Clear…how clear exactly?
Those (both business and individual) who continue to file interim claims must now show a 5% increase in revenue growth from 2010 to qualify for full compensation from the claims fund. Feinberg reports that businesses along the Gulf Coast are increasing their revenue on average by 10% so this 5% should be no problem, is certainly generous, and whereas this might be more accurate for those in the tourist industry, for those in the fishing industry it is less so. In justifying this growth rate for the fishing industry, Feinberg reports all federal and nearly all state fishing grounds have been reopened, there have been increases in the catch of shrimp the first four months of 2011 and a solid harvest of menhaden is expected, so all will now be well for the fishermen to continue on, recovered. Their revenue must grow by 5%, or they will not be fully compensated because any growth less than that cannot be blamed on British Petroleum and their oil spill, not anymore.
Remember back in February when the final methodology came out and Feinberg refused to compensate workers affected by the drilling moratorium because said moratorium wasn’t directly attributable to BP? Well, using this same logic, if the general impression across the country is that the seafood in the Gulf of Mexico isn’t safe and nobody wants to buy it, that isn’t BP’s fault either.
The fact that the moratorium happened, and the impression that Gulf seafood is our country’s newest carcinogen is surely not related to any oil spill.
Not at all…
I read report after report from shrimpers talking about the small catch, about the size of the shrimp themselves and how their catch was oftentimes rotting on the dock because people didn’t want to buy it. Some shrimpers were even calling for the season to be cancelled altogether.
Did their revenues increase by 5% from 2010?
Maybe, maybe not.
What about the seafood processors?
What about claimants making interim subsistence claims?
And, what happens in the future, if this oil spill has worked its way into the food supply, if the fish lesions don’t go away, if the oil found in crab larvae doesn’t disappear, if a hurricane stirs this whole mess up all over again?
In any case, the rules on interim claims just got a lot tighter, and much more complicated.
However, if this all concerns you, perhaps you might rest easier knowing that when it comes to this growth rate, Feinberg has estimated that 75% of the businesses and individuals in the Gulf will experience a 5.6% growth rate. Also, he estimates by way of previous disasters that the Gulf will recover 70% the first year and 30% the next. Oh, and when it comes to those unemployed by this spill, he now states that unemployment benefits as a result of the spill will end after 78 weeks, and his analysis shows this will cover 95% of the people without jobs.
For any of you slipping through these cracks? Well, Feinberg and BP have made you whole enough.
But back to the interim claims:
Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood has alleged that Feinberg, rather than paying interim claims, is attempting to coerce Gulf Coast claimants into accepting final claims which require they sign away their rights to sue British Petroleum for future damages. A month ago, British Petroleum made demands that Feinberg stop paying all future claims because the Gulf Coast has recovered.
As a result of these new modifications to the rules, it would appear that while Feinberg insisted Jim Hood was wrong, he thought his employers, British Petroleum, might just be right.
And anyone slipping through the percentages?
Read the rule changes:
Have a nice day.
Last month, Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood filed a lawsuit against Ken Feinberg, stating he and the GCCF had not complied with a subpoena issued last February asking for full access to GCCF records so Hood’s office could put them under review. Among other things, Hood alleges that Feinberg has intentionally stalled payments to oil spill claimants in the hopes financial desperation will encourage settlements with the GCCF.
Feinberg denies this.
Feinberg denies a lot.
Feinberg would still deny he is an employee of British Petroleum if he thought he could get away with it, if Judge Barbier hadn’t ordered him to stop making such claims.
Feinberg realizes that having Hood’s lawsuit heard in Hinds County, Mississippi might not work out real well for the GCCF and himself, so Feinberg moved the case to Federal Court where it will hopefully be heard someplace further away, where fewer have followed his history of shenanigans, false promises, and other assorted obfuscations.
Ken Feinberg: stalling claims, and now also stalling court cases trying to investigate his stalling of claims.
He certainly is the savior of the Gulf Coast.
Read the article:
Have a nice day.
Ed. Note: Yesterday (Aug 16th), with very little fanfare, Ken Feinberg modified the rules for final and interim payments: check it out, more on that tomorrow…
David Pitofsky, Feinberg’s attorney, stated yesterday in a court filing it is their belief the GCCF already has adequate oversight so there is no need for the court to order any additional supervision, “The GCCF is already effectively supervised by the Coast Guard and several committees of Congress, and it has voluntarily agreed with the Department of Justice to an independent audit of the claims process,” Pitofsky said in the filing.
Yes, but this citizen would simply say the enemy of my enemy is my friend.
But first, let’s take a look at Feinberg’s friends:
The Coast Guard, while an admirable institution, seemed to really go out of their way to do the bidding of British Petroleum throughout this entire disaster. BP, Ken, that same company you seem to really hate admitting is your employer.
Congress, the only things Congress can agree on is how much they hate the other side of the aisle, a hatred eclipsed only by their apparent hatred of any legislation that might protect anything but their own ass. Environmental regulations, environmental oversight or the oversight of the GCCF, not really up there on their list of priorities, not when there is an entire nation of poor people they can willfully screw over. Ken, in their eyes, you’re small potatoes.
As far as this audit you and US Attorney General Eric Holder came up with, while I applaud its idea, I question its method, simply because it was something you and he agreed to behind closed doors and we still don’t know its range and/or scope, nor do we know if its findings will have any teeth beyond making things uncomfortable for you, Ken, for maybe a news cycle, before you go back to business as usual.
So, those are your friends. That is the oversight you have agreed to, and that is the oversight you and your lawyers say is enough.
With this oversight in place, we already have complaints from across the Gulf Coast how the GCCF isn’t doing its job, leaving too many claimants behind, from health claims to subsistence claims to interim claims…from a low-balling of final claim offers to coercion through financial desperation into accepting said offers or the many, many quick claim offers you’ve already paid out, all while signing away any rights to future compensation.
You say: not enough documentation, no causal evidence of health maladies, and the offers are fair…and that is all you say, except maybe the occasional caveat or apology, with no resulting correction of what you apologized for. And again, this is with the oversight you already have. So why do many across the Gulf Coast think you need more? Well, beyond everything stated above, because the enemy of my enemy is my friend, or in other words:
When it comes to oversight you haven’t agreed to, you need more precisely because you think you do have enough.
Read the article:
Have a nice day.
After the Deepwater Horizon exploded 16 months ago, the people of the Gulf Coast were made a successive series of promises by the government, by British Petroleum and then by the administrator of the GCCF, Ken Feinberg. In their own ways, each entity promised to make the Gulf Coast whole again…first through clean-up, then through reparations and ultimately by claiming precautions and new guidelines would be put in place so something as devastating as the BP oil spill could never happen again. All of these promises have been beset in some respect by failure.
The use of Corexit dispersant which may have made things worse, the fact that sixteen months later there is still oil in the marshes and tar balls washing up on still closed beaches, the failure of promises made to participants in the VoO program, all combined with Barack Obama’s seeming forgetfulness of promises made to an entire region, symbolized by his lack of mention in his most recent State of the Union speech and then Congress’s walk back from initially harsh criticism of British Petroleum and promises of new laws and regulations…and now, the region is still left with the economic stain of the GCCF’s many failures across four states: low-balled payments, denial of health claims based on stricter guidelines than Feinberg used in previous claims programs, his admitted denial of legitimate claims for people who lack documentation and sixteen months later, far too many people still wait for payments, not hand-outs, not charity, but compensation for the damages they suffered as a result of a catastraphuk they never asked for, but continue to live with.
Is it getting better in the Gulf?
Should it be much better than it is, are people still struggling as a result of this disaster while British Petroleum continues to make billions of dollars in profit and continues to pay Feinberg’s law firm millions of dollars in salary?
So in six months the trial begins.
“The trial over last year’s Gulf of Mexico oil spill disaster will unfold in three phases and will start as scheduled on Feb. 27, 2012, U.S. District Court Judge Carl Barbier said Friday. Barbier said at a monthly status conference in the oil spill litigation that he will issue an order soon sketching out plans for next year’s trial over liability in the disaster. His plan most closely resembles the proposal submitted by Anadarko Petroleum Co., which held a 25 percent ownership stake in the ill-fated Macondo well. “I fully intend this trial will start as scheduled on Feb. 27, 2012,” said Barbier, who was appointed to the federal bench by President Bill Clinton in 1998.”
The first phase of the trial will examine the roles of various companies in the explosion, the loss of control, the sinking of the Deepwater Horizon and the beginning flow of oil. The second phase will cover the attempts to shut down the well and how much oil was lost while the third will deal with the liability of the clean-up, the dispersants, the skimming and the boom used to cope with the spilled oil.
Also covered on Friday by Carl Barbier were the beginnings into an examination of the VoO program. Nearly one hundred boat owners have filed a complaint with the court alleging BP’s VoO program was a corrupt conspiracy that left “thousands of participants … holding the bag for millions of dollars of unpaid services, equipment, materials, repairs and decontaminations” – and that BP intended it that way.
“Lead plaintiff Clyde Crawford says BP promised the plaintiffs $1,200 to $3,000 a day to use their boats during the cleanup. Crawford says the plaintiffs signed contracts promising to be available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and that BP told them told several times that they would be paid their daily rate even on days they were not called to work.” According to the 111 page complaint, “BP promised to pay for all repairs needed as the result of the work, and to pay for decontaminating the boats when their work was done…but the fishermen say the whole Vessels of Opportunity program was a corrupt conspiracy….'[Defendants] BP, Parsons Corporation, Danos & Curole, HEPACO, U.S. Environmental Services and the individual defendants have engaged in an illegal and unlawful conspiracy to defraud plaintiffs and underpay plaintiffs for services, equipment, materials, repairs and decontaminations related to the VoO program and the oil spill response,’ says the complaint.”
Judge Barbier on Friday said that he stands ready to appoint someone to deal with disputes arising out of the VoO program, “This could expand,” he said. “I’m not sure how many of these Vessels of Opportunity cases could be out there.”
So, here comes the judge, and it would appear, along with the independent audit of the GCCF promised by US Attorney General, Eric Holder, the judge may just be what the Gulf Coast needs…
Especially when we read articles such as:
Some Amnesia Over Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill: where Tommy Beadreau, senior advisor to the US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement states, “”In the United States, in our political environment, we’ve already seen in some circles a little bit of amnesia when it comes to the spill — the reasons for it and the effects of it.” Because, in case you forgot, we have a House of Representatives who would appear to have never seen a regulation or a federal level environmental agency they haven’t wanted to either destroy or defund.
So, the Gulf Coast is left with Judge Barbier and the attorneys.
So, here’s hoping the right thing is finally done and this region eventually gets made whole, once and for all. If BP, Obama and Feinberg won’t do it, maybe the courts finally will.
Read the article:
Have a nice day.