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Gulf Coast Residents Hit Hard

July 8, 2010

BP CEO Tony Hayward

Washington’s Blog

http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2010/06/oil-coating-seafloor-and-killing-fish.html

It’s not just the sealife.

Gulf coast residents are being hit hard as well.

David Kotok of Cumberland Advisors estimates that one million jobs will be lost permanently in the Gulf coast oil services and supporting industries.

The House Judiciary Committee has found:

  • As of … Tuesday, June 15th, BP had paid less than 12 percent ($71 million dollars out of an estimated $600 million) of outstanding claims submitted by individuals and businesses.
  • Two weeks after the disaster, BP had not paid a single dollar to the individuals or businesses harmed by the explosion and the oil spill. As of May 18th (four weeks post-disaster), BP had only paid $11,673,616.
  • In apparent response to congressional oversight and the efforts of the federal government, BP began increasing their payments to affected individuals and businesses in the past few weeks.
  • Although the oil spill disaster occurred on April 20th, BP has only begun to compensate individuals for their full loss of income in the past two weeks. We understand individuals continue to experience delays in the receipt of full income awards.
  • BP has not paid a single bodily injury claim. As of Friday, June 18th, there were 717 claims submitted for bodily injury, including claims for respiratory issues, headaches, and skin irritation.

  • BP has not paid a single claim for the diminishment in value of homes in the affected areas of the Gulf South, out of a total 175 claims submitted.
  • Out of the 267 claims submitted, BP has paid only $169,371 in loss of income claims for affected restaurants. However, the lack of data from BP on the damage amounts requested by the affected restaurants or the number of claims paid makes it impossible for the Committee to determine if restaurants and other Gulf Coast businesses are being properly compensated.

“I remain concerned that BP is stiffing too many victims and short-changing others,” [Committee Chairman John] Conyers said.

Reuters notes that BP is paying only a fraction of what the fishermen think they’re entitled to.

CNBC points out that BP is only paying fishermen one month’s pay – pegged to pay from their slowest season.

USA Today notes:

State officials in Louisiana and Florida say the payouts, so far, have been small and often too slow and that BP hasn’t given them the data they need to adequately monitor the process.

WDSU reports:

Some people claim the payout process is unorganized, and other said there is no system in place to account for how many days the fishermen have worked and no clear time frame for when they’ll see the money they’ve earned.

CBS notes:

Some businesses have been asked to file 1,700 pages of documents before they can get a check.

The L.A. Times notes that:

BP’s request for tax records poses a problem for some residents of fishing communities in southeastern Louisiana — the nonconformists who haven’t kept records or reported their cash income.

Time Magazine makes a similar point:

Fishing can bring in a lot of money in a very short period of time during the right season, but fishermen might be hard-pressed to provide evidence — bank statements, pay stubs — that can back that up. The same goes for many other businesses: if receipts are dwindling at a restaurant, or guests are cancelling at a resort, how is it possible to prove that the spill alone is responsible? “We’re stuck in the middle,” says Chris Camardelle, whose seafood restaurant in Grand Isle has been badly hurt by the oil spill. “So it’s a tricky situation.”

Jane Hamsher notes that fishermen harmed by the Exxon Valdez oil spill have had to wait 20 years to see any money, and – for many fishermen – all of that money was been swallowed up by government fees and taxes.

But as bad as it is for fishermen, it’s worse for everyone else. For example, AP notes:

BP PLC says 90 percent of the compensation checks it has issued so far have gone to fishermen.

Those who provide goods and services to fishermen are receiving next to no compensation. The oil spill is killing not only fish and crabs – but the American dream for millions of Gulf Coast fishermen, shrimpers, tourist industry workers and others.

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