In an op-ed article this month in Gulf Coast newspapers, John Mingé, the chairman of BP America, highlighted the coast’s record tourism numbers, emphasized the $27 billion BP had spent and dismissed environmentalists skeptical of the gulf’s recovery as advocates using the spill “to raise money for their causes.”
They took a lot of credit in their PR for their continuing resolve to stick with the clean-up after they damn near destroyed the whole Gulf Of Mexico. They were, they said, “committed to returning the Gulf to its previous greatness” Or words to that effect repeated again…and again and again…over the past years. Until now.
[N]othing has been as drastic as the company’s change in attitude toward the process it helped set up in 2012 to settle hundreds of thousands of economic damage claims. In full-page newspaper ads, interviews and a gusher of court filings, BP officials have insisted that their good intentions are being hijacked by greedy lawyers and underhanded claimants.
Why the sudden change? one asks oneself. What happened to all that “commitment”? What made them turn their backs on that overwhelming sense of responsibility and hightail it out of there?
In March, the federal government allowed the company, after a period of exile, to bid for oil and gas leases in the gulf.
Oh. And that business about all those greedy “advocates” and the implication that every one of them was out to rip off poor ol’ innocent, trusting, naive BP?
While BP has won some arguments in court, its fundamental point — that the settlement has been brazenly misinterpreted to pay claims with no evidence linking them directly to the spill — was batted away in a recent decision in the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.
“There is nothing fundamentally unreasonable about what BP accepted,” Judge Leslie H. Southwick wrote, “but now wishes it had not.”
IOW, whine! But that’s OK. BP is handling the situation with all the dignity and patience you’d expect from an industry leader: they’ve emptied their bag o’ tricks and they’re running everybody through a paper mill.
“In the beginning they was all real nice,” said Barry Labruzzo, a 35-year-old shrimper from Slidell, La.
Mr. Labruzzo received an emergency payment from Mr. Feinberg’s operation in the early days of the spill, while also putting in a claim for lost business revenue. He was confident he would be paid quickly. “They would tell us we don’t even need a lawyer,” he said.
Mr. Feinberg required proof that damages were directly caused by the spill, a rigorous standard reflected in the fact that he approved only 550,000 of the 1.2 million claims he received.
But in meeting halls and boardrooms along the gulf, Mr. Feinberg’s compensation program was criticized as being confusing and unpredictable.
“I can’t tell you how many times we did our financials,” said Michael Hinojosa, the owner of Midship Marine, a boat building company in Harvey. “They always asked for more documentation. They kept asking for more and more, and we kept giving it to them.”
That little run-around was something they probably got from their insurance carrier, an industry where the never-ending paper-shuffle is a common strategy for avoiding a legitimate pay-out, sometimes for years. And years. They’ve got what they wanted and now they’re itching to dump the “responsibility” drag and stem the bleeding from their balance sheet. The tv cameras are off, the govt’s sponsoring them again, why should they keep pretending they give a shit when they don’t?
BP’s getting back on the profit horse. Boo-yah!