Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell says federal court approval of the $7.8 billion BP settlement could leave the state responsible for a potential fishery collapse like the one that occurred three years after the 1989 Exxon Valdez. The Times-Picayune reported Monday that Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell has joined Mississippi and an organization representing fisheries in objecting to the proposed $7.8 billion BP settlement for private claims resulting from the Deepwater Horizon explosion in 2010. Caldwell filed a brief in federal court Friday, arguing that the cap on payments to fishers could leave the state responsible for a potential fishery collapse like the one that occurred three years after the 1989 Exxon Valdez.
According to the T-P, Caldwell also repeatedly criticized the Plaintiff Steering Committee, a group of lawyers representing the private claimants that worked out the settlement with BP, for failing to object to provisions of the settlement that would limit payments for future damages resulting from the spill.
In the state's brief, Caldwell said the $2.3 billion the settlement sets aside for claims by fishing interests may not be enough to pay future damages. That would force the state to pay part of the cost of future damages if an unexpected collapse of fisheries occurs.
"For example, if, as was the case in Alaska following the Exxon Valdez oil spill, the Gulf suffers a fisheries collapse as a result of the oil spill, threatening the economy and putting hundreds or thousands of Louisiana citizens out of work, it is the state (through the expenditure of taxpayer monies) that will be faced with the financial liability in the form of unemployment compensation benefits and job re-training services," said Caldwell's brief. His filing objects to a provision that would allow BP to make one-time "risk transfer premium" payments to fishermen.
Read the T-P story here.
Read more about the proposed $7.8 billion settlement in the April 2012 ABiz story, "The Lafayette Connection."