Below are those from Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal,
Today, Governor Jindal issued the following statement five years after the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill:
Governor Jindal said, "Five years ago today, eleven honorable men were taken from us far too soon in the tragic Deepwater Horizon explosion off of our coast. This year, as we reflect upon each individual who lost their lives that fateful day, our hearts and prayers go out to the families and friends of these men. They worked tirelessly for countless hours on the rig to provide for their families, and their work helped drive an industry that supports thousands more families across our state. Although they are no longer with us, they will forever be in our memory."
“The images of oil-drenched wildlife and marshes have been seared into our memories, but our spirit and perseverance are stronger than ever before. As we look back over these past five years, we have seen our coast continue to rebound from the oil-battered wetlands and beaches we saw in the months after the spill. Although we will not know the full extent of the damage until a final assessment is completed, response and recovery efforts are ongoing, and scientists say our habitats and ecosystems are slowly coming back. However, there is more work to do as oil continues to wash ashore here in our state – and we won't stop working until our coast and wetlands are fully restored.”
The Deepwater Horizon oil spill began off of Louisiana’s coast on April 20, 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico after an explosion occurred on an oil rig owned by BP and operated by Transocean. The initial explosion tragically killed 11 people and injured 17 others. More than 200 million gallons (4.9 million barrels) of crude oil was pumped into the Gulf of Mexico for a total of 87 days until it was capped on July 15, 2010 – making it the biggest oil spill in U.S. history. By April of 2014, over 15 million pounds of oily material had been removed from Louisiana’s coast alone.
PLAQUEMINES PARISH FISHERMEN AND FISHING COMMUNITIES
Today, five years after the spill, Louisiana continues to battle re-oiling. Tarballs, tarmats, sheening and oozing oil still appear on shores and wetlands in several of the state’s coastal areas. As recently as March of this year, a submerged tar mat was located on the East Grand Terre barrier island, resulting in the removal of nearly 14,000 pounds of oily material over the course of just a few days. Assessments are still ongoing to measure the full impact of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill on Louisiana’s coast; however, response efforts will continue by state and federal workers as long as necessary to restore it.
At the end of Highway 39 in Plaquemines Parish, the Beshel Hoist and Marina in Point à la Hache was a hub of activity. It was a place where people of all ages gathered to unload oysters, fish, and shrimp from boats, catch up on the local news, and socialize. In the five years since the BP oil drilling disaster on April 20, 2010, the marina stands virtually vacant, save for recreational fishing. Residents of fishing communities in Plaquemines Parish are deeply concerned that their way of life can vanish as a result of the massive BP oil spill.
To mark the fifth year of the largest environmental disaster in the history of the United States, Plaquemines Parish fishing communities will gather at a town hall meeting to speak out about how they are coping with losses from the BP oil spill as well as build consensus on a plan of action for the recovery of their communities. The town hall meeting will be videotaped and transcribed for a report by fishing communities to local, state, and federal governmental officials.
“BP promised to make our fishing communities whole, but put us in a hole,” said Byron Encalade, President of the Louisiana Oystermen Association. “The future of our communities in Plaquemines Parish is at stake,” he said.
LOUISIANA LAWSUIT ABUSE
In the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, a settlement fund was established with the goal of fairly compensating victims. In the intervening years, however, a cadre of personal injury trial lawyers, administrators and fraudsters have abused this system for their own personal gain – tarnishing our legal system and further hurting deserving victims.
Nearly five years after the disaster, Louisiana Lawsuit Abuse Watch took a close look at where all the money from the BP settlement is going and asked the critical question: Who is benefiting most from the unprecedented class action settlement set up to compensate victims in the aftermath of the 2010 oil spill? What we found was startling!
Although many know that class action lawsuits are notorious for producing highly lucrative legal fees, the lawyers and administrators profiting from the Gulf settlement have brought this unscrupulous practice to a whole new level.
Transaction costs stemming from the oil spill settlement are easily the largest in American history, with $471 million being spent on administrative overhead in 2013 alone. That’s nearly a half a billion dollars—or about what it cost to run the entire City of New Orleans that year.
The city funded schools, roads and hospitals and provided fire services and police protection, as well as many other critical public services, while lawyers and administrators working on the oil spill settlement used roughly the same level of funding over the same period of time to pay fewer than 42,000 claims. Some may criticize government officials in the Big Easy for wasteful spending, but they look like penny pinchers compared to the plaintiffs’ lawyers and administrators involved in this settlement.
Even more alarming is that a growing number of the claims paid have turned out to be fraudulent. Local and national law enforcement officials have uncovered more than $20 million in fraudulent claims thus far, and more reports are being made every day.
In one stunning example an Alabama woman plead guilty to conspiracy to defraud the Deepwater Horizon claims center of $1 million by filing false claims under the names of more than 100 people, most of whom were unaware. Fortunately, prosecutors finally caught up with her and she was forced to return the money, but this outlandish case highlights the extraordinary lengths that fraudsters are willing to go to in an effort to profit from the Deepwater disaster. And of course, this comes at the expense of those who were truly impacted by the spill.
While lawyers and administrators get rich and fraudsters continue to file claims that clog the entire system, more than 145,000 disaster victims await their payments.
That is wrong and unacceptable. Legitimate victims should not still be waiting five years after the spill to be made whole. First and foremost, this is about the people, the families, and the businesses that were affected by the spill– not the lawyers, administrators and fraudsters who showed up in its aftermath to profit from it.
As we pass a milestone date and are reminded once again of this disaster, we must not lose sight of the victims who continue to be impacted today. This is yet another reminder of and justification for why America’s legal system needs massive reform.