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Feinberg Testifies on Oil Spill Claims Process

Kenneth Feinberg, who is in charge of administering the massive effort to compensate the victims of the Gulf oil spill, is testifying before a subcommittee of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee on the claims process.

Asked about how he will determine the long-term impacts of the oil spill in order to adequately compensate oil spill victims (an issue I wrote about today), Feinberg said, “I’m going to have to get some expertise on that. This program is going to go on for three years. Hopefully we’ll have that figured out by then.”

Feinberg also raised another issue of potential concern in the claims process. He said it will be difficult to determine how to disperse claims to claimants who are indirectly affected by the oil spill. “When the proximity is so far from the Gulf, where do you draw the line?” Feinberg said, offering as a hypothetical example a restaurant in Las Vegas that was known for its Gulf shrimp that can no longer sell them.

In addition, Feinberg said he would release a report in 30 days that will estimate the budget for administering the claims program, outline the expected number of claims that will be filed and determine whether the $20 billion BP has committed to the claims effort over three years will be enough. “I would hope $20 billion would be sufficient, but fortunately BP has said that if $20 billion is not sufficient they would step up” and pay all legitimate claims, Feinberg said.

Feinberg added that he is working with the Department of Justice to prevent claims fraud.

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