In a recent article about the $20 billion dollar escrow account and claims process, Ken Feinberg estimated that after all is said and done, he will have paid out 6 billion of the BP Oil Spill trust fund, and he will then return the remaining $14 billion dollars to British Petroleum. These are surprising numbers, especially when you consider the amount of displeasure and suffering in the Gulf today. Second Harvest and Catholic Charities of Louisiana are reporting a 25% increase in demand, much of it attributable to the effects of BP’s spill, especially because most people in the country believe BP is taking care of this increase monetarily (the company is not) and it has resulted in fewer private donations.
The situation in the Gulf is getting worse, with Iray Nabatoff, director of the Community Center of St. Bernard, a Second Harvest partner reporting requests for food, clothing, assistance information and computer laboratory sessions continue to rise. “We’re seeing the ripple effects of the oil spill and the cessation of fishing activities right through the economy,” Nabatoff said. “I think we’re still on the ascending end of this. I wish I could report things are abating. On so many levels, it’s actually more of a struggle now.”
Again, these charities are not covered by the trust fund. These charities are on their own.
In light of this and several other developments, $14 billion dollars being returned to British Petroleum seems almost obscene.
Over the past few months British Petroleum has been scaling back the amount of cleanup workers despite continuing reports of heavy oil washing up onshore, and the company also began cutting the pay rates to companies that contract with cleanup workers.
The ever increasing amount of bankruptcies occurring in the Gulf as a result of lost wages, lost businesses and lost lives as a result of this spill.
The amount of people in the Gulf Coast region who are getting sick and the number of people who have been exposed to chemicals and will become sick in the future. If British petroleum doesn’t pay for their health care, after the individual is forced into bankruptcy by medical bills, the state and federal government will be the ones to do so, and what of the pain and suffering caused in the meantime?
As I wrote yesterday, there are numerous accusations being levied at Ken Feinberg that people are being underpaid in an attempt to steer them towards final payments. Feinberg denies this, but it doesn’t change the feeling of many residents on the Gulf Coast. They see 60,000 denials of payment, 147,000 under review, a lack of transparency in the claims process, no details given to explain how the amounts they received were calculated, all the claimants who feel they have little recourse, the changing rules, the pressure of forced decisions.
These feelings don’t come about when people consider a process fair.
And lest we forget, this spill has produced untold environmental impacts to the entire region which are years in the measuring, costwise.
August of 2013 is when the whole claims process is set to expire, when Feinberg states the last check will be sent from the fund. That may seem like a long time but it really isn’t, not in the big picture. This is only two and a half years and it would be my guess that in such a short time frame, some problems will only be really starting to show evidence: physical health, mental health, continued deterioration of fish stock and the environment.
In two and a half years, British petroleum gets the money back.
Okay, so consider this:
Two decades after the worst oil spill in U.S. history, huge quantities of oil still coat Alaska‘s shores with a toxic glaze, experts say. More than 21,000 gallons of crude oil remain of the 11 million gallons of crude oil that bled from the stranded tanker Exxon Valdez on the night of March 23, 1989.
The oil—which has been detected as far as 450 miles (724 kilometers) away from the spill site in Prince William Sound—continues to harm wildlife and the livelihoods of local people, according to conservation groups.
Dennis Takahashi-Kelso, who was on the ground at the Exxon Valdez disaster as Alaska’s commissioner of environmental conservation, remembers wading through knee-deep pools of bubbling, thick oil. The smell of the pure oil was intense and pungent, he said.
When he returned to the same beaches years later, he found “surprisingly fresh” oil just below the sand.
That’s twenty years later; two and a half years ain’t shit…but for BP, their escrow account disbursements will be over. As for the Gulf of Mexico and its residents, the trouble may still be in its infancy and at that time, as Feinberg estimates, British Petroleum will walk away from the Gulf with $14 billion dollars.
Have a nice day.