Maria Cantwell Tries to Get BP to Define “Legitimate Claims”

One of the highlights of the first of several Deepwater Horizon hearings in Congress this week came when Maria Cantwell tried to get BP American President Lamar McKay to commit to what BP would pay as “legitimate claims.” She asked about:

  • Long term and short term harms to the fishing industry
  • Business loss to tourism
  • State and local governments for lost tax revenue
  • Long term damages to LA fishing industry and it’s brand
  • Additional troubles with fisheries
  • Shipping impacts
  • Impacts on further drilling operations
  • Impacts to the pristine beaches in this area

He balked about the tax revenues, the brand of LA’s fishing industry, and further drilling operations.

In any case, he certainly didn’t commit to what he meant by “legitimate claims.”

14 replies
  1. TobyWollin says:

    I think I read in a recent interview with him that he viewed “legitimate” claims as only those involving immediate business interruptions, so I assume that he’d take a dim view of anything long term or not immediately associated with a business interruption. So, no taxes, nothing long term and certainly nothing “squishy” like image or appearance of beaches.

  2. klynn says:

    Thanks for posting.

    Three of the top ten most beautiful beaches in the world sit on the Gulf Coast of FL,according to National Geographic and a number of travel publications.

    • klynn says:

      Was it the lighting or did he become a bit more flushed in the cheeks and forehead as her questions became more focused?

  3. Leen says:

    I thought these execs were far more responsive and willing to accept responsibility for mistakes than the Bailout banksters. Hell the banksters brought the U.S. economy to the brink and walked off with billions in executive compensation. Some of it out of taxpayers dollars.

    These guys somehow seemed more serious. Not trying to get out of being held accountable like the bailout banksters.

    • qweryous says:

      “Not trying to get out of being held accountable like the bailout banksters.”

      Plausible deniability for this spill is washing up on the shores as the hearing takes place, so different tactics are required.

      If there was some way to claim that this spill and resulting pollution was not happening, they would.

      Some might argue that these oil companies and oil executives are one or two levels below the head banksters in the grand pecking order. They still engage in activity more lasting than inventing and trading made up concepts. Because of this they are slightly more normal than the banksters.

  4. JTMinIA says:

    Think about the implications of capping damages.

    If you know that there’s a maximum that you’ll ever have to pay then it’s in your best interest to create huge drilling operations so that when you have an accident – not if, but when – you will not have to pay for all of the damage.

    Smaller entities that can’t create such huge operations never get to take advantage of this. Only those who can set up huge operations and cause huge amounts of damage can use it.

    Second implication: if drilling with a large safety margin costs an extra X% then, once you reach the level of being a huge operation, the payoff for spending the extra money to be safe goes down and continues to go down as you get bigger and bigger. From a purely mathematical point of view, capping damages at a fixed amount while not capping the size of the operation directly reinforces being less and less safe as you get bigger and bigger. (This is math that anyone above Dan Quayle can do.)

    So the caps encourage huge operations – i.e., operations that clean-up crews could never control – and encourage being less and less safe as you get bigger.

    Fricken brilliant law-writing. The best that money can buy.

    • DWBartoo says:

      At the heart of every man-made outrage which assails humanity, there you will find a lawyer or even a bunch of lawyers.

      Excellent comment, JTMinIA.

      You have dissected the “reasoning” behind “BIG”, precisely.

      Too BIG to fail.

      Translates, directly into …

      Too BIG to be held accountable.

      And then …

      Too BIG to be questioned.

      Which means …

      Too BIG to be stopped.


        • DWBartoo says:

          That’s a catchy jingle, fatster … all the way to the bank.

          I see a bumper sticker with many applications.

          Big Oil

          Big Banks

          Big Insurance

          Big Weapons Builders

          Big “Marts”

          and even;

          Big Torturers

          indeed, ALL the

          Big “Insiders”

          Gee, what a “BIG” list.


  5. Hmmm says:

    I believe “perverse incentives” might be the phrase all y’all’re looking for here.

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