Obama to order BP to create fund for oil spill-related claims…but can he?
In a further effort to make people think he’s kicking a little ass, President Obama is planning to order BP to create an independently administered fund to reimburse victims of the spill. I, for one, can’t think of any way the White House or Congress could order BP to put millions of dollars of its own money into any fund for the payment of claims absent either a finding of liability or BP’s bankruptcy. While the EPA certainly has the authority to compel BP to pay for the environmental clean-up, I’m pretty sure it doesn’t have the authority to force BP to pay Bubba-Gump for the loss of his shrimping business. In that case, B.G. would have to sue BP and ultimately prove that his loss of business was caused by the oil spill.
Notwithstanding the above, however, I think it would be in BP’s best interest to agree to the fund. At some point, BP is going to start being faced with claims that have nothing to do with the oil spill. The last thing BP needs is the press running stories about how poor Silvio is having to fight with the big bad BP over being reimbursed for the poor performance of his male escort service in Las Vegas. By agreeing to the fund, BP will be washing its hands of presiding over the reimbursement process. Instead, an independent Special Master could be appointed to determine who should get what. Agreeing to the fund would be a public relations victory for BP, as well as a common sense solution for dealing with the Silvio’s of the world.