Chicago Sun-Times
The scoop from Washington

Obama White House to BP: Pay up on oil spill claims. Letter text.


WASHINGTON-- The Obama White House, yet to find a way to cap the BP oil spill gusher, moved ahead Wednesday on something they have more control over: pressuring BP to quickly pay claims made by Gulf Coast victims. Adm. Thad Allen, the overseer of the U.S. response to the man-made disaster, wrote BP's chief executive calling for more transparency, more information about how quickly claims are being paid and how the payments are being calculated. President Obama said BP should not "nickel and dime" people who lost their living because of the catastrophe.

June 8, 2010

Dr. Anthony Hayward

Group Chief Executive BP

1 St. James's Square London SW1Y 4PD United Kingdom

Dear Dr. Hayward:

The BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill is having a devastating impact on the environment and the economy of the Gulf Coast states and their communities. As one of the responsible parties for this event, BP is accountable to the American public for the economic loss caused by the spill and related events. I recognize that you have accepted responsibility for the spill and that you are committed to paying all related expenses. At the same time, the Federal Government and our State partners need to ensure that all affected individuals, families, and businesses receive just and timely reimbursement for their economic damages. As you know, we asked to meet with your senior claims team and appreciate that we will sit down this Wednesday for an ongoing conversation. We need complete, ongoing transparency into BP's claims process including detailed information on how claims are being evaluated, how payment amounts are being calculated, and how quickly claims are being processed. To that end, I am directing that you provide the National Incident Command (NIC) and appropriate representatives of the State governments with information we need to meet our responsibilities to our citizens.

To date, BP has provided public statements on claims eligibility and summary data on claims processing. However, we need additional information to assess how well the process is meeting the critical needs of individuals, families, and businesses whose livelihoods are being impacted by the spill. The NIC and our State counterparts have made several requests for additional information which we have not received. Through the National Pollution Funds Center (NPFC), we requested access to the BP claims database with personally identifiable information removed (specific data and field requests attached). In order to be able to monitor the status of individual claims, this request includes unique identifiers like the claim number and last 4 digits of social security numbers to assist with monitoring amounts and timing of claims payments. Access to this level of detail is critical to informing the public as to how BP is meeting its obligations as a responsible corporation. I expect a response from BP on this critical issue as soon as possible.

At the June 9, 2010 meeting we plan to discuss ongoing concerns related to delayed processing time for large loss claims, claims pending with no action taken, payment calculations for individual loss of income claims (particularly for seasonal workers), translation of claims material, accessibility for the hearing impaired, and how BP will address claims resulting from the moratorium on drilling. Additionally, we would like more information about BP's plan for continuing to pay monthly loss of income claims, the mediation program BP is putting in place, and BP's placement of claims coordinators in each state and how these liaisons will engage with local officials.

I have appointed Tracy Wareing, Lead for the Integrated Services Team within the National Incident Command, to oversee the claims process and the provision of human services and economic assistance. Ms. Wareing will be joining me at the June 9, 2010 meeting. Please identify a senior official to work with Ms. Wareing as well as with senior representatives from the impacted States to provide increased visibility into the claims methodology and process.

The Federal Government and the public expects BP's claims process to fully address the needs of impacted individuals and businesses. We need more detail and openness from BP to fulfill our oversight responsibilities to the American people and ensure that you are meeting your commitment to restore the Gulf Coast. I appreciate your attention to this matter.


Admiral Thad Allen
National Incident Commander

cc: Secretary Janet Napolitano

Lamar McKay, Chairman and President, BP America
Darryl Willis, Claims Operations, BP


The US Supreme Court will give all advantage,
in litigation, in favour of British Petroleum
and overturn any and all compensation package
on a large scale to Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi and Florida.
Conservatives voted for the US Supreme Court in favour of business
and not for the little guys.
So get used to living with your tar filled beaches
for the rest of your lives, your childrens lives
and their children's childrens lives
just like Alaska has to live with the US Supreme Court overturning
their just outcome.

As a maritime lawyer and a mediator in MS, AL, and FL I will be very interested in BP's mediation proposal. Mediation was very effective in resolving hurricane claims in FL after the 2004 and 2005 hurricane seasons which saw 6 category 3 hurricanes hit FL. The problem is, mediation only works if both sides are willing to make a good faith effort to resolve their differences. So far I am not impressed with BP. Too much spent on public relations and too little spent on the clean up.

To declare a moratorium on drilling is in itself an admission of equal responsibility by those who gave permission in the first place for drilling at these absurd depths. Might that just be the Gulf Coast States? Shot themselves in the foot, or was it those Presidential Candidates crying "drill,drill,drill" and the Federal Government.
Either way, we here in the UK, all of us, are bracing ourselves to now pay deeply for the US sub-prime international financial disaster, if you succeed in sending BP to the wall, then that will have a significant impact on my pension, for which I shall be extremely grateful.
I think I'll recommend that we pull out of Afghanistan and leave you with the handful of other NATO troops, who won't fight at night or any day of the week with a "D" in it, and see how you get on in that stupid war. At least we'd save some money and more importantly lives.

The total spill to date based on 20K barrels per day = 700k.

The USA burns more oil than this in 1 hour.

Now thats environmental impact.

Greed+ I want energy + I want it cheap = risks = disaster.

Cost: BP has spent more in one month on clean up that has cost 11 lives than the USA has spent on malaria research in 3 years which costs 250 lives per day.

Disaster for the environment yes.... But the cause is GREED not BP, or its boss.

So who can cast the first stone?

Exon with a safety record that was second to none, has an accident. They are the cause of all evil, must be destroyed. What message did this send? Safety doesn't matter. If you have an accident, you are bad, regardless of your negligence, or lack of negligence.
Now we have BP. Poor safety record. Perhaps they were negligent. But does this matter? It appears not. Liablity doesn't seem to have anything to do with negligence in big accidents. This is wrong.
Therefore, I partially blame the environmental crazies. They send the message that should be punished when you do nothing wrong. They seem to want to use pictures of oiled birds to raise money, and care little about the environment. Firing captain Hazzlewood when he was caught drunk would not have made his tanker safer, and it would have been unlawful to fire him.

Whose --- should Obama kick? I say the environmentalists. And when we identify people who cut corners to save money, cost lives, and destroyed the enviroment, they are guilty of manslaughter, in my opinion. A fine for killing people does not seem appropriate.

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on June 9, 2010 6:00 AM.

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