OUR OPINION: BP escrow fund is rare oil spill good news

Staff Writer
Gonzales Weekly Citizen

If anyone has been standing around over the past two months waiting for a bit of good news to come out of the BP Gulf oil spill, they may have received it Thursday when the White House announced that BP will establish a $20 million escrow fund to pay for claims and cleanup costs.

That is the amount Sen. Mary Landrieu asked for, and many had hoped for.

BP also agreed to suspend shareholder dividends and pay victims of the oil spill before paying its shareholders.

Under the agreement carved out by President Obama during a reportedly intense negotiating session with the oil company giant, the fund and claims are to be administered by Kenneth Feinberg.

Feinberg oversaw the government fund for victim families after the the 9/11 attacks, administering $7 billion.

With the escrow fund, the likelihood of BP acting like Exxon did after the Valdez spill in Alaska in 1989 by fighting victims in court is unlikely to be repeated.

It will take more than money to bring the Gulf Coast back, but the solid establishment of the escrow fund is going to help those who plan to fight to bring the area back by helping them recoup some of their losses.

President Obama has been much maligned for his early response to the spill. He deserves praise now for negotiating this significant escrow settlement for those affected by the spill.