+ Some oil spill claims have remained “under review” for weeks, with little or no additional information fromt he Gulf Coast Claims Facility. More after the jump.
+ In a fundraising email sent today, the first day of early voting, Al Gore cites the oil spill as a reason to support Alex Sink, Florida’s Democratic nominee for governor.
+ North Florida’s largest landholder, the St. Joe Company, has filed another lawsuit related to the spill.
+ The first “test trial” for claims under the Oil Pollution Act is expected to begin next summer, a Louisiana judge announced. BP wants to wait until at least 2013. The company also has one week to confirm whether or not it will wave the $75 million cap on damages.
+ So far, the spill has prompted BP to unload $11 billion in assets, and it may be letting go of even more.
+ A survey of researchers says the ecological health of the gulf has gotten worse, but not by much.
As Andrew Restuccia reported last week, many oil spill claimants, including this man from Little Sarasota Bay, complain that they have waited weeks to here anything from the Gulf Coast Claims Facility while their claims remain under review.
As ProPublica reported:
It is possible to check the status  of applications on the website of the operation run by claims czar Kenneth Feinberg, but claimants say they cannot get explanations for their status, for delays in processing, or for the size of the checks sent out for approved claims.
Feinberg acknowledged to ProPublica that his operation should be doing a better job of providing enough information to claimants. He said he has been making changes to improve transparency and responsiveness.
“We have responded to that valid criticism that there’s no way transparency-wise for somebody to get information about their particular claim or calculation,” Feinberg said. He said that claims agents answering his operation’s telephone hotline  had gained access to more information and could provide explanations for payments, and pledged that “I will be, in the next couple of weeks, putting more local people in field in the Gulf to have live bodies there to respond to these very same questions.”
Still, Feinberg’s decision whether to hire additional people to answer claimants’ questions about their status remains “under advisement,” according to the Mobile Press-Register.
As of Oct. 16, 27,597 Florida claimants have been paid or approved for payment of their emergency claims, while a combined 31,451 remain “under review” or require additional documentation. Only 30 have been denied.
Floridians has received just under $478 million of the more than $1.4 billion paid out under the program so far.