Attorney General Bill McCollum sent a letter to incoming oil spill claims administrator Kenneth Feinberg, criticizing his plan for compensating oil spill victims and calling the protocol released today by the new Gulf Coast Claims Facility “completely unacceptable” and “even less generous to Floridians than the BP process.”
Feinberg will take over the claims process Monday.
The process outlined in the protocol “directly contradicts many of Feinberg’s own public statements regarding the claims process and appears to violate the law,” according to a press release from McCollum’s office.
One issue involves the legal standard of “proximate causation,” which could require claimants to prove that their losses are a direct consequence of the spill. As I reported earlier, Feinberg has not clarified how that would affect, for example, businesses in areas where the oil never came ashore but did cause a decline in tourist traffic or seafood sales.
Yesterday, The New York Times reported:
In response to pressure from BP, [Feinberg] decided to include language in the protocols emphasizing proximity rather than language that is closer to federal law that does not geographically limit damage claims.
In the letter (available below in full), McCollum also criticized the lack of clarity about whether people will have to re-file claims already submitted to BP, and the short time frame they will have to seek six-month emergency payments.
“Unfortunately, the current process is far more onerous than the [Oil Pollution Act] allows and greatly reduces claimants’ rights,” McCollum wrote.