Please RECOMMEND THIS DIARY, the motherships have been discontinued.
On Thanksgiving weekend there won't be a morning Friday Gulf Watchers AUV diary but there will be a Gulf Watchers Friday Block Party.
Gulf Watchers Diary Schedule
Monday - evening drive time
Wednesday - morning
Friday - morning
Friday Block Party - evening
Sunday - morning
Please be kind to kossacks with bandwidth issues. Please do not post images or videos. Again, many thanks for this.
Wednesday, November 23rd marks the last day that Gulf Coast residents can file emergency claims to the Oil Spill Compensation Claim Facility. The claims process has drawn criticism and caused frustration among the victims, and now it appears things may get worse. In fact, proposed rule changes for allocation of funds from the $20 billion established last summer would not only require that claimants lose the right to sue BP, but they would then transfer their rights to sue any of BP's partners (Halliburton and Transocean) to BP. BP then gets to sue its partners and gain billions!!! According to Reuters,
"Language in the draft proposal requires that claimants transfer, or subrogate, their legal rights to BP. Claimants would sign over their right to sue those responsible for the spill in the same way a car owner might when accepting an insurance payment after being hit by a negligent driver."
That would enable BP to pursue its partners for a portion of the claims it paid.
Claimants who have already received emergency compensation,or who have a claim pending will not be required to do so. The new rule, if adopted will apply to final payments for damages. Those receiving emergency funds can turn down final payments and retain their right to sue.
Businesses, individuals and government entities who suffered economic losses or physical injury as a result of the BP oil spill are eligible to file two types of claims: Emergency Advance Payments and long-term final damage claims. They have until November 23, 2010 to file Emergency Advance Payment claims for up to 6 months of economic losses or physical injuries. Claims forms for final payments must be submitted by August 23, 2013.
Claimants may accept an Emergency Advance Payment without waiving any of their legal rights. Accepting a final payment of long-term damages requires that claimants waive their right to sue BP or any of the parties responsible for the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
Any Emergency Advance Payments will be deducted from any final long-term damage payment a claimant receives. However, it is important to note that claimants may accept an Emergency Advance Payment and still reject the final payment if they find it to be unsatisfactory.
Meanwhile, The Attorney Generals of Mississippi and Alabamastongly criticize the proposed rule changes as well as Feinbergs administration of the funds to date.
Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood, in a Nov. 9 letter obtained exclusively by AOL News, said that changes to rules for interim and final payments appear "not to assist people in the Gulf, but to assist BP ..."
Hood listed eight "concerns" he had after reviewing the proposed changes, including a plan to issue payments quarterly instead of monthly, the lack of legal counsel provided so claimants can understand the complex claims process, an "unsatisfactory" appeals process and a "lack of transparency" in the claims process.
Likewise, Alabama's outgoing AG Tony King wrote a blistering letter to Feinberg
King called the proposed changes "far out of touch with the real world needs that you should be meeting."
Noting that Feinberg is paid $850,000 a month by BP to oversee the claims funds, King continued: "You shamefully continue to cede the concessions won by Gulf Coast Attorneys General to your benefactor, BP.
"For example, whereas BP committed to the Attorneys General that they would pay 100% of any claim attributable to their Deepwater Horizon disaster, you have made public comments that change by the day regarding your intent to discount claims based on how far away from the water they arose."
Response from the Claim facility
:Amy Weiss, spokeswoman for the Gulf Coast Claims Facility, said the draft of the new rules has changed "dramatically" since it was first circulated among lawmakers and legal experts in the gulf states and is still evolving.
"It's still a work in progress," she said. The requirement that claimants sign a release giving up their right to sue is still under consideration, she added.
Feinberg will announce the new rules next week, after the emergency claims period ends.
Seems like even The Justice Department is getting in on the act. We have heard all along about how much difficulty some folks have had getting a claim paid, while others had none. Likewise, there is no transparency in how the amount one receives is calculated. Associate Attorney General Thomas J. Perrelli has now sent a letter
Perrelli said he continues to have concerns about the pace of the claims process. He said many of the people and businesses who have claims under review don't have the means to get by while they wait for their claims to be processed.
"While you have indicated that poor documentation has made it difficult to address some claims quickly, over the past two weeks the number of claims requiring additional documentation has actually gone down - while the number of claims under review has increased significantly," Perrelli wrote to Feinberg.
On the transparency issue, Perrelli said more information should be provided to victims about the principles being used to decide claims. He said there is very little reason not to do so.
Since money from the fund is being used to pay the states for clean up as well as individuals, there is apparently discrepancy over how much of the 20 billion has been used.
Feinberg told The Associated Press on Saturday he has paid out roughly $2 billion already to some 125,000 claimants. He estimated the total draw on the fund to date at $6 billion, which he said includes government and cleanup claims. An official with the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Trust, Mark Templeton, said the total draw to date is $2 billion and he doesn't know where Feinberg is getting the larger figure. Asked to respond, Feinberg said, "That's absolutely not true. You'll have to talk to BP. If I'm wrong, I'm wrong."
Money not paid from the fund goes back to BP!
When the oil spill claims fund was announced in June, officials said the fund could be used to pay all claims, including environmental damages and state and local response costs, with the exception of fines and penalties.
Money left over likely goes back to BP. The Justice Department verified that leftover money would go back to BP, but said the money would first be held in escrow for a number of years to make sure all claims are settled.
"I don't really worry about that because if there's money left over from the $20 billion, so be it, as long as anyone eligible has gotten paid," Feinberg said.
In addition Feinberg said it was good to get advice from the DOJ and he promised there would be more transparency. He also claimed that he felt that compensation had been "generous".
Accept a check now, or later?BP claims a gamble: Get check now, risk less later.
Business owners on the Gulf can file for a "final" payment from the BP Oil Spill Fund, waive their rights to sue any of the companies involved, and be compensated"generously" to quote the fund's administrator Kenneth Feinberg. But what happens to them is the environmental damage is such that business in tourism and fishing don't bounce back?
However, Feinberg warns, they could end up with a much smaller check later.
"If they decide a year from now, I'll take the final payment, they're going to have to show prospective damage," Feinberg said in a recent interview. "But my offer may not be available to them a year from now if everything is back to normal."
If victims want more time to think about it, they can opt for interim payments by submitting a new claim for damages every three months over the next three years. That would still leave them with the option to sue BP. But they'll have to continue to prove their losses, and their final settlement offer may shrink with each passing day
Wonder who gets to define normal?
Large business owners say they are not getting paid:
However, many business owners with larger claims, over $100,000 and up to several million, say they are getting shortchanged or that their requests simply haven't been paid at all. Even the Justice Department has told Feinberg to speed up the claims process and be more transparent about how the cases are being evaluated.
Mississippi seafood processor Keath Ladner said the structure of the program is forcing people "to gamble on our livelihoods."
Ladner, who employs about 70 boats and is one of the largest processors in the state, hasn't opened his shop since the April 20 oil rig explosion that spewed more than 170 million gallons of oil into the sea and killed 11 workers. He hasn't had the product or the work force to make the business profitable, and he said no national buyers want his seafood because of the lingering misperception that it's tainted by oil.
His claim for roughly $1.7 million has been under review for weeks.
Many who are struggling through the claims process feel that Feinberg is shortchanging them or keeping their claims under review to force them into accepting the final settlement offer because they'll be so far behind on bills, they'll have no choice.
"If he keeps everybody hungry, they're going to have to take any kind of settlement," Ladner said. "We'll have to take whatever he offers."
Is the number of claims being received bogging down the process? Since Feinberg is being employed by BP to process these claims, it would be to both their advantageS to hire more people, set up more offices; that would be better PR than those Iris Cross ads.
n recent weeks the GCCF has been inundated with thousands of claims, coming in from every direction. While many are legit, there are thousands that are being submitted with little or no documentation to support the claim. The mass filings have bogged down the facility and slowed payments to those deserving. Many businesses and individuals are still waiting on a first payment as it seems the facility is lacking the capacity to process the claims flooding in.
According to the GCCF website, as of November 19th, there have been 400,516 claims filed. Of these claims, 119,167 have been filed with little or no supporting materials. Sifting through the legitimacy of the claims has seemingly become an overwhelming task.
All eyes will be on Feinberg next week as the Gulf region is awaiting word on the final claims process. Delays in final payments can be expected due to the large amount of open claims still under evaluation.
"I filed a business claim the first week in October and have gone back and forth with the GCCF on what documents they need" said Jeff Whittaker, a small business owner in Gulf Breeze, Florida. "I’ve contacted them by phone by email and gone down to the local office but no one can provide a definitive timeline on when I might get paid".
Should President OBama be blamed for these problems of compensation since he negotiated with BP to set up this fund in the first place?
At least one columnist asks us to go easy, the problems are complex. (don't we Gulf Watchers know!)
Obama’s easiest approach in dealing with those who have claims against BP and others responsible for the Gulf oil spill would have been to leave it to the court system to determine liability, determine damages and apportion responsibility for those damages among liable parties. There are more plaintiff’s lawyers than coquina shells along the Gulf Coast.
But Obama twisted BP’s arm for a $20 billion pot from which to begin paying claims, and hired Kenneth Feinberg to oversee administration of the claims. Now politicians who have spent much of their careers blasting plaintiffs and their lawyers for filing claims get to slam Obama and Feinberg for not paying claims fast enough.
The benefits of the fund should not be overlooked. Claimants do not have to prove liability and do not have to limit themselves to one claim.
However, without the aid of a lawyer, knowing how to file and what documentation to provide is difficult for some.
To get a hint of how major a problem documentation is, consider this startling statistic. Out of 400,500 claimants, almost 80,000 have provided no documentation. No tax returns, nothing. Another 49,000 have not provided adequate documentation.
It’s one thing to say they should not need as much documentation if BP or some other bad guy is going to have to pay. But that’s not Feinberg’s situation. He is distributing a $20 billion fund. That means every exaggerated or fraudulent claim he pays potentially is a denial of a legitimate claim. The vast majority of the claims filed so far are for lost wages or profits, and it is impossible to demonstrate the validity of such a claim without documentation.
The fact that we were in a recession complicates the issue. If business is down, what to compare it to? How much of a decline in tourism was due to the spill, or people just not traveling?
Then comes the issue of mitigation. Did the claimant make any effort to obtain income from another source?
That question, always significant, is huge when it comes to the oil spill. BP was hiring people to clean beaches. Boats contracted by BP were hiring crew members to lay boom. Even some restaurants and hotels were hiring, because they were inundated with BP and governmental employees responding to the spill.
And it looks like the criticism will only get worse...
As they seem to be with every effort by Obama, Republican politicians are quick to pronounce the claims process a failure. If their goal were honesty rather than political points, they would study the issue more carefully.
If Iron Horse won't load in VLC or Quicktime with the above link try this one.
They cemented the still leaky Macondo well and put on a memorial cap in the wee hours of November 8. The Marine Traffic site hasn't had any type of accurate information around the Macondo site since they pulled the BOP so we don't know what skimmers and support ships may have been on site. Feeds have been up for pulling and deploying equipment since the well was capped.
==Multiple stream feeds (hard on browser/bandwidth)==
BP videos All the available directly feeds from BP.
Bobo's lightweight ROV Multi-feed: is the only additional up to date multiple feed site.
See this thread for more info on using video feeds and on linking to video feeds.
PLEASE visit Pam LaPier's diary to find out how you can help the Gulf now and in the future. We don't have to be idle! And thanks to Crashing Vor and Pam LaPier for working on this!
Previous Gulf Watcher diaries:
11-21-10 09:35:21 Gulf Watchers Sunday - New Charges Against BP; Barton Eyes Energy Chair - BP Catastrophe AUV #429 - Yasuragi
Gulf Watchers Block Party - Traveling Boomers - ursoklevar
Gulf Watchers Friday - Criminal Negligence - BP Catastrophe AUV #428 - Lorinda Pike
Gulf Watchers Wednesday - BP Bribes Schools to Brainwash Kids & NOAA Helps - BP Catastrophe AUV #427 - peraspera
Gulf Watchers Monday - Afternoon Edition - BP Catastrophe AUV #426 - shanesnana
Gulf Watchers Sunday - Bickering Delayed Testing of BOP - BP Catastrophe AUV #425 - Yasuragi
Gulf Watchers Friday - The More Things Change... - BP Catastrophe AUV #424 - Lorinda Pike
Gulf Watchers Wednesday - Commission Takes a Dive for BP & Big Oil - BP Catastrophe AUV #423 - peraspera
Previous motherships and ROV's from this extensive live blog effort may be found here.
Again, to keep bandwidth down, please do not post images or videos.