Once More, With Feeling

The US Coast Guard and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Regulation & Enforcement (BOEMRE, say “Bummer”) released what may be the final report in the long line of investigations into what went wrong and why offshore in the days and moments leading up to the deadly explosion which set in motion the BP deepwater drilling disaster.Warning, this is not the most thrilling reading, but you can find links to it all here: http://www.deepwaterinvestigation.com/go/site/3043/ The new material is the Coast Guard’s final action memo, its enclosure, and volume II. BP recieves the brunt of the blame, wholy owning 6 of the 8 conclusions focused on the practices of the corporations involved, and sharing responsibility in the other two conclusions. BP can spin this however they like, but this investigations conclusions remind everyone still paying attention (“hello, is this thing on?”) that the buck stops with BP.I expect this report will bolster the efforts of the Department of Justice to hit BP with criminal charges, and ultimate win that case. I hope we see some action in those efforts soon (say before a new Attorney General is at the helm).So, we know BP caused it, but how are they doing on paying for it? According to a recent TP article quoting my friend Clint Guidry with the Louisiana Shrimp Association, not so hot. Despite the claims of Ken Feinberg, head of BP’s Gulf Coast Claims Facility, that he’s paid over $357 million to Louisiana fishermen, many remain under compensated. As Clint puts it:”The reason you’re seeing a lot of $5,000 and $25,000 (quick) payments is they’re telling us our problem in Louisiana is a lack of documentation. Well, that is total horse—-. We went to Wildlife and Fisheries and got trip tickets going back 10 years. People spent thousands of dollars on accountants putting their claims together and they have been turned down flat. But they’ll tell you they’re happy to give you the $25,000 quick pay.”Another pool of BP money ($100 million) was set up to pay out of work off-shore oil workers, due to the BP disaster prompted moratorium on deepwater drilling. Last week it was announced that BP was rolling over 75% of that fund, held by the Baton Rouge Area Foundation, to go to non-profits focused on helping the environment or communites affected by BP’s disaster. So, despite all the cries of Louisiana and Gulf politicos that the moratorium/permitorium is killing the oil business, relatively few folks were actually hitting up that fund for its initial purpose. In fact, fewer than 800 people were ever paid by that fund. Instead, the money will go initially to Catholic Charities, Audubon Nature Institute and two other non-profits. It will be interesting to see if BRAF’s Future of the Gulf fund will recognize the important work of non-profits such as the Gulf Coast Fund (full-disclosure, I’m on their Board of Advisors), Waterkeepers’ Save Our Gulf collaboration, LEAN or the Louisiana Bucket Brigade or some of the other groups doing important work while being more critical of state/federal/corporate response to the disaster.Aaron Viles is GRN’s Deputy Director. You can follow him on twitter at http://twitter.com/GulfAaron

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