BP oil spill victims: Obama offensive comes too late
The $20 billion escrow account is good news, but efforts to speed up the BP oil spill claims process are behind the curve, Louisiana business owners say.
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At Captain Allen Seafood, a roadside bait shop that also sells fresh seafood, in Houma, La., owner Dee Dupree says she did not watch the president’s Oval Office address Tuesday because, by now, more talk about the oil spill is “depressing.”Skip to next paragraph
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She filed a claim with BP but is still waiting on her check. She says she worries that the petition process is being flooded with fraudulent claims, which will clog efforts of legitimate businesses like her own from getting a fair hearing.
Her anger is directed not at BP, but at President Obama for his six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling in the Gulf.
"This is crazy. Yes, this is a catastrophe but you have planes that crash where 200 people die and you don’t stop planes from flying,” she says. She worries that the region will soon empty as people move elsewhere to seek jobs. “Men need to work. Once they’re gone, they’re gone. They’re not coming back. I don’t think [the president] sees the whole picture.”
To shrimper Lance Nacio, the increase in recovery money “sounded good,” but he questions how much is going to filter down to businesses like his own. Federal fishing closures, which to date represent 33.4 percent of Gulf waters, shuttered Anna Marie Seafood, Mr. Nacio’s fishing and wholesale seafood operation in Dulac, La. He is now a temporary BP employee, running a two-person crew on his boat into oil-slicked waters and conducting controlled burns.
He too received $5,000 in recovery money, but says it will not be enough in the long-term.
If I wasn’t working for BP for this job I wouldn’t have any other source of income … They are cutting this one-time check and it’s not enough to sustain livelihoods down here,” he says.
If there was an upside to Wednesday’s announcement of $20 billion in recovery funds, it was that it put an end to the fear that has been circulating since the spill’s early weeks: That BP would be hit so hard by claims and government fines it would be forced to declare bankruptcy.
"That’s one thing we are relieved about in South Louisiana,” he says. With the newly-released money, Nacio says “at least we have something to go to that will be there for us.”
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