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Feinberg: New Rules For Oil Spill Payments

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 18 Feb 2011 12:58pm | comments
Kenneth Feinberg addresses a crowd in Jackson.

New rules are now in place to help speed up the claims process for thousands of Mississippians affected by the Gulf oil spill. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports the man in charge of the BP oil spill fund made the changes after numerous complaints.

Kenneth Feinberg, the man in charge of the project, spoke in Jackson Friday about the challenges facing the 20-billion dollar oil spill fund.

Feinberg says the sheer size of the fund and the number of claims, more than 500-thousand in the last 6 months, has slowed the process. New rules have been set up to expand eligibility, require better documentation, and improving local connection.

"We are going to beef up the local claims offices so that people can go and get answers locally to their concerns and questions about the claims process. We are going to add accountants in the local claims offices. We are going to invite claimants to go to accounts in their neighborhood, we have a list. We are trying to do what we can to beef up the process," Feinberg said.

Feinberg says that he is being fair and has not yet had a decision overturned.

Gulf coast lawyer Leslie Lang represents a number of claimants along the gulf coast including a man who hauled sand for companies that sandblasted barges on the coast. When the spill happened, his business dried up. But his claim was denied, and the man lost his company.

"And, you know, I can't compare for my clients...I can't say I had a bar owner who was compensated versus this client that owned the sand company. For me it is hard to say that a bar owner is easily qualified by my client wasn't," Lang said.

Lang says in general most claims are being processed but it is happening slowly, and might not reach enough people.

Former Governor William Winter's law firm is handling a number of the claims. He thinks Feinberg has performed well despite criticism of the process and Feinberg's ties to B-P.

"I think he has the interest of the people. I think his record shows that he is a very even handed and very compassionate administrator of the funds," Winter said.

The fund has paid out more than 3-and-a-half billion dollars and will remain open until late 20-13, which is when Feinberg estimates the spill will be completely cleaned up.

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Kenneth Feinberg addresses a crowd in Jackson.


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