Good news for a change concerning the BP oil spill and BP’s commitment to pay for its mess. A News4Jax article reports that BP announced Tuesday, June 15, that it will set aside $20 billion to pay victims of the massive oil spill. That move came after pressure from the White House following a meeting with BP executives Wednesday. The fund will be independent and overseen by lawyer, Kenneth Feinberg. He is the lawyer who oversaw the payments to September 11th terrorist attack families.
Those whose livelihoods have been devastated by the April explosion and subsequent leak of thousands of gallons of crude into the Gulf include fishermen, restaurateurs, oil rig workers, and hotel owners among others. There is no word yet on when claims will be processed and who and what will be covered, but BP is now committed to paying $5 billion a year for four years into an escrow account.
So far the company has promised to commit $25 million for research in the aftermath of the spill. The Florida Institute of Oceanography will receive $10 million. In signing up to receive the money, the institutions say they were careful to erect a firewall so BP could not alter or in any way influence the research.
Also on Wednesday, the chairman of BP, Tony Hayward, apologized to the American people for the worst oil spill in U.S. history. To put its money where its mouth is, $100 million has been set aside to help oil workers. shareholders won’t be happy as they will not be receiving any dividends for the rest of the year. Scientists are now estimating that the spill is dumping up to 2.5 million gallons a day into Gulf waters and is still not contained, 58 days after the explosion.
Hayward is not off the hot seat yet. He will face a congressional committee Thursday, June 17, to answer how the company is handling, or not, the containment of the spill. Rep. John Dingell said to “expect a very unpleasant afternoon.”
The bottom line will be how to prevent this type of disaster from ever happening again.