We’re sure that quite a few heads are nodding in agreement with Ken Feinberg’s suggestion that Louisiana residents “move on” from last year’s massive BP oil leak off the state’s coastline.
Feinberg was appointed by President Obama to administer a $20 billion claims fund paid for by BP to compensate fishermen, tourism business owners and others affected by the leak.
Feinberg told a recent meeting of Advocate reporters and editors that the fund, managed by the Gulf Coast Claims Facility, will be processing claims for another two years, although it’s closing some claims offices as the number of new claims slowly winds down.
Those seeking compensation from BP can seek a final payment, which would prevent them from suing BP from further damages from the leak, or an interim payment, which involves no such pledge. Those seeking compensation from BP can also forego the claims process administered by Feinberg and sue BP for damages, a legal process that can take many years.
“I urge the citizens of Louisiana: Move on already,” Feinberg said. “The Gulf is returning to normal. He added that continuing hard times along the coast are the result of a poor economy, not the BP leak.
“It’s not oil anymore,” Feinberg said. “I think people should move on already. This is history now.” Like Feinberg, we don’t want to encourage a culture of perpetual victimhood around the BP leak. We know of a number of people who blame every Louisiana ill, perceived or otherwise, on Hurricane Katrina’s arrival six years ago. No disaster, manmade or otherwise, should be an occasion for indefinite emotional paralysis.
However, in urging people to come to closure on the BP leak, Feinberg isn’t speaking as an expert in marine biology. The long-term environmental effects from the leak on the Gulf of Mexico remain unknown. We’re encouraged that commercial and recreational fishing has resumed in the area near the leak, and that officials have concluded the seafood harvested from the area is safe.
We suspect that most of those affected by the leak have, indeed, moved on with their lives, regardless of what compensation, if any, they received from BP.
Mother Nature, though, seldom writes its conclusions as quickly.