From the fine folks at NRDC.
There are conflicting reports today that BP may be trying to cut a deal with the administration to settle the billions of dollars in fines it’s expected to incur as a result of the oil spill. The AP quoted Rep. Steve Scalise, a Republican lawmaker from Louisiana, on Tuesday saying that there were talks between BP and the White House to come up with a settlement. Then the Justice Department said no talks were taking place. It makes sense though, and we’re expecting something to emerge before too long. BP could be facing billions in fines for the spill, not to mention legal costs. Meanwhile, there are indications that BP and the government are moving swiftly on the next phase of the Gulf spill disaster. BP announced a new set up a new global safety division and make other changes to the way it operates. President Obama endorsed the recommendations of the Mabus commission to fund restoration of the Gulf of Mexico with the collection of fines that BP is likely to pay.
“These are the first and most urgent steps in a program I am putting in place to rebuild trust in BP – the trust of our customers, of governments, of our employees and of the world at large. That trust is vital to the restoration of shareholder value which has been so adversely affected by recent events” – BP CEO Robert Dudley
And this one, too
“Washington, D.C., is not going to tell the Mississippi Gulf Coast how to rebuild the Mississippi Gulf Coast” – Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour
AP: Will BP cut a deal with White House to reduce fines for oil spill?
There was a flurry of excitement Tuesday when Louisiana Republican Rep. Steve Scalise told the Associated Press that BP and the White House are talking about a settlement in fines for the oil giant in an effort to avoid a costly legal fight. It’s a negotiation,” Scalise said “If they can’t reach an agreement then it would go to court. We would be able to get that money to the Gulf coast quicker if they would agree to it.” Late Tuesday, a Justice Department official threw a cold towel over this story and said no settlement talks are taking place.
ProPublica.org: Feinberg says he’s eliminated claims backlog
Claims czar Kenneth Feinberg said his operation had eliminated the backlog of claims that had been sitting in the system unpaid. “There is virtually now no backlog,” Feinberg told ProPublica. “We are now current with any of the older claims.” The only backlog is claims that have come in during the last few days.
Bloomberg: Deepwater drilling ban may end soon
Watch for Interior Secretary Kenneth Salazar to lift the federal ban on deep-water oil drilling “soon,” now that the measure has met some of its goals, the government said in court papers this week.
And then check out this conflicting one:
CNSnews.com: Bromwich: No idea when deepwater drilling will resume
Michael Bromwich, the director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy, Management, Regulation, and Enforcement (BOEMRE), told the presidential commission investigating the BP oil spill on Monday that the federal government has no idea when deep-water oil drilling would resume in the Gulf of Mexico, even though the federal moratorium on such drilling expires on Nov. 30. There are rumblings the moratorium may be lifted early but no confirmation yet.
Dow Jones: Pace of shallow-drilling permits defended
It sure is taking a long time, but offshore drilling chief Michael Bromwich said his agency has approved seven shallow-water permits since it issued guidelines in June and is currently reviewing six other applications, according to a person familiar with the issue.
Clarionledger.com: Poll: Restoration high on list of voter demands
There are few things the beleaguered people of the Gulf coast agree on more these days than repairing the Gulf coast. A new poll shows overwhelming support among all five Gulf states for environmental restoration of the region, according to the poll by the Walton Foundation. “The polling shows that voters believe that environmental restoration is intrinsically linked to the economic well being of the state and the region,” said James Cummings, executive director of Wildlife Mississippi. More than 70 percent of the 2,061 voters polled said they’re more likely to vote for a member of Congress supporting making new investments for the health of the Gulf coast.
AOLnews.com: Presidential panel needs subpoena power
A presidential panel investigating the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico needs a hammer to get its work done. So far, it just has a stick. The panel’s co-chairs say the Oil Spill Commission needs subpoena power to call witnesses. They say the panel’s investigators have “encountered resistance” as they attempt to interview employees of the companies involved in the Deepwater Horizon drilling operations.
Check this out, too
Houston Chronicle: Oil companies refuse to talk on record about oil spill
New York Times: BP gets serious about safety
Robert Dudley, BP’s new CEO, announced Wednesday BP would set up a new global safety division and make other changes to the way it operates as it seeks to absorb some lessons from the explosion of a oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico earlier this year. The new division would aim to improve risk management and safety, and also review how the company manages agreements with contractors.
Check this one out, too
Washington Post: Obama endorses Mabus Gulf restoration report
President Obama endorsed a new report issued by Navy Secretary Ray Mabus. It recommends funding restoration of the Gulf of Mexico with some of the possible fines the federal government could levy on oil and drilling companies involved in the oil spill.
And see this one
Obama asks EPA administration to take lead on Gulf recovery
Full text of Mabus report
Press-Register: Feinberg pays $200 m in claims in one day
The floodgates have finally opened to pay claims to Gulf coast residents for their pain and damages from the BP oil spill. Nearly $200 million poured into the Gulf Coast from the oil spill claims process Tuesday, and public officials in coastal Alabama said that for the first time all summer, business owners were being made whole for their losses. “It looks like we’re finally gaining the momentum we need,” Gulf Shores Mayor Robert Craft said. “I’m hopeful now, more so than I’ve been in a while.”
Times-Picayune: A new tactic to get claims payments: Form letters
About half the households in Plaquemines Parish are using form letters, some provided by Parish Council members on official parish letterhead, to ask oil spill claims czar Kenneth Feinberg to cover their personal food costs. Feinberg says none include any documentation.
USA Today: States tally up damages for BP payments
While the strategies differ, every state bordering the Gulf is calculating the damage caused by an estimated 5 million barrels of oil spilled in the Gulf and the chemicals used to clean it up, and preparing to present BP with a bill. All of the states say they can back up their claims with a lawsuit if BP won’t pay. “Most every state has either filed a complaint or has one drafted if need be,” says Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood.
Webwire: Tyson’s food delivers 50 tons of chicken for Gulf
Tyson Foods, Inc. is stepping up to the plate to help the Gulf coast. It’s delivering more than 50 tons of chicken this week to the Gulf Coast to help fight hunger in communities affected by the recent oil spill. The chicken products are being given by Tyson to the Bay Area Food Bank, which services Central Gulf Coast communities in Alabama, Florida and Mississippi..
Times-Picayune: Landrieu resists pressure to cave on OMB nominee
Sen. Mary Landrieu has finally found an issue that could help her re-election campaign and the people of the Gulf. With Congress heading toward the exits for the election recess, she maintained her hold Tuesday on the appointment of a key administration official. It’s likely the Obama administration will be lifting the ban early and no matter what the reason, Landrieu is expected to come out a winner on her steadfast parliamentary maneuver. Landrieu acknowledged she was getting considerable “pushback” from the Senate leadership to release her hold on the appointment of Jacob Lew to head the Office of Management and Budget. Nothing like making a few waves.
Law.com: Lawyers jockey to be lead counsel on BP oil lawsuits
More than 100 lawyers who are suing BP PLC over the Deepwater Horizon oil spill have applied for coveted places on the committee that will lead the multidistrict litigation, citing either the extensive work they’ve already done or the unique role they would serve as the representative of a specific group of alleged victims. Some sought a role as representative for a particular group including African-Americans, Vietnamese fishermen and Hispanics. There are lawyers seeking a leg up representing Florida and Louisiana and a firm representing the three Mexican States claiming to be affected by the spill Plenty is at stake here – money, of course, and a chance to to steer the proceedings in a position favorable to their clients.