"We spent a lot of time here just talking about the logistics of the response on the shore as oil begins to come in. And everybody here has particular concerns because we've got limited resources. . . One of the things that we've done to make sure that organizationally things are working the way they should is we now have a Coast Guard official who is stationed with each parish president and we actually have a BP representative who is stationed with each parish president, so that they have direct access to making sure that any information, any problems that they've got, are immediately being shot up to Thad and he can respond quickly. And we want to set that up not just in Louisiana, but in Alabama as well as in Florida -- we want county equivalents to have that same kind of representation and rapid response.
"We also talked about claims. And this is an area where I think everybody has a lot of concern. My understanding is, is that BP has contracted for $50 million worth of TV advertising to manage their image during the course of this disaster. In addition, there are reports that BP will be paying $10.5 billion -- that's billion with a B -- in dividend payments this quarter. Now, I don't have a problem with BP fulfilling its legal obligations. But I want BP to be very clear, they've got moral and legal obligations here in the Gulf for the damage that has been done. And what I don't want to hear is, when they're spending that kind of money on their shareholders and spending that kind of money on TV advertising, that they're nickel-and-diming fishermen or small businesses here in the Gulf who are having a hard time. . ."
As WIMS previously reported, BP indicated to it shareholders on June 4, that it has already spent over $1 billion in gross direct costs for the response, clean up and relief wells and spending at this rate is expected to continue for some time beyond successful completion of work to stop the flow of oil from the damaged well. Any fines and penalties would present additional costs; but the company said the costs of containment, removal and clean up are likely to be largely complete in 2010. BP reports that 34,656 claims have been opened, from which more than $45.9 million have been disbursed. No claims have been denied to date, and there are more than 516 claims adjusters on the ground. The Administration reports that it is providing aggressive oversight of the BP claims process from start to finish that will ensure that every legitimate claim is honored and paid in an efficient manner, and its strong commitment to providing residents with full, streamlined access to available assistance programs [See WIMS 6/4/10].
The President said, "We've assigned federal folks to look over BP's shoulder and to work with state and local officials to make sure that claims are being processed quickly, fairly, and that BP is not lawyering up, essentially, when it comes to these claims. They say they want to make it right. That's part of their advertising campaign. Well, we want them to make it right. And what that means is that if a fisherman got a $5,000 check, and the next time he goes in, because it's a new month, suddenly BP is saying, well, we need some documentation and this may take six months to process, or 60 days to process -- or 30 days to process, for that matter -- that fisherman, with all his money tied up in that boat, just may not be able to hang on for another 30 days. He may lose his boat and his livelihood. . ."
We've [the Federal Government] already submitted one bill [$69 million, See WIMS 6/3/10] and they haven't said that they're not paying it, so I don't want to anticipate problems. But we are already starting to see at the local level folks experiencing problems. And we don't want those problems to build up -- we want to nip that at the bud right now. And the fact that BP can pay a $10.5 billion dividend payment is indicative of how much money these folks have been making. And given the fact that they didn't fully account for the risks, I don't want somebody else bearing the costs of those risks that they took. I want to make sure that they're paying for it."
On June 4, BP announced it will be sending a second advance payment during June to individuals and businesses along the Gulf Coast to compensate for the loss of income or net profit due to the cleanup of the Deepwater Horizon Incident in the Gulf of Mexico. With the second advance payments, BP estimates it will have spent about $84 million for loss of income or net profit through June, based on the claims it has received to date. This number will grow as additional claims are filed. About 14,000 individuals and businesses in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida have received an initial advance payment for loss of income or net profit to date.
Access the June 7 press briefing from Thad Allen (click here). Access the June 6 release from Rep. Markey (click here). Access the President's full remarks on June 4 in Louisiana (click here). Access the BP release on claims processing (click here). Access the BP response website for links to visuals on how the LMRP is supposed to work (click here). Access additional information updates and links to releases and briefings on the Administrations response from the Unified Command website (click here). Access EPA's environmental monitoring site (click here). Access the White House website on the BP spill which contains links to all Federal agency response websites and more (click here).