National Fisherman

Patrick Juneau, court-appointed administrator of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill claims settlement program, came out swinging in a response to BP allegations that his payment program is rife with fraud, charging the company with making "spurious allegations of breaches of duty" and "broad, unfounded criticisms of the program's internal controls and fraud detection processes."

Juneau was responding to an Aug. 5 BP motion asking U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier to suspend payments in the claims program -- which has averaged payouts of $100 million a week -- until an independent investigation of fraud allegations involving the program by former FBI Director Louis Freeh is completed. That investigation is still underway.

BP has repeatedly raised allegations of improper payment of claims during the past few months. It filed an earlier request for Barbier to suspend the payments, which the judge rejected when BP could provide no evidence of improper payments.

The company also has asked the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn an earlier Barbier ruling upholding the way Juneau is approving large business claims, contending that the method is allowing many firms, including trial lawyers, to receive multimillion-dollar settlements without proof of actual damage from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon blowout or the ensuing three-month oil spill.

The company has increased its estimates of the cost of the settlement from $7.8 billion to at least $9.6 billion, and said it could go higher if Barbier's ruling is upheld. The company says it's already spent $42 billion in associated Deepwater Horizon costs, and has paid out or committed all but about $300 million of a $20 billion trust fund it had set up for court-related damages immediately after the accident.

But in their filing, Juneau's attorneys insist that BP has gone too far in its allegations that the claims payment program is improperly run. "Ultimately, BP asks the court to safeguard it from imagined harm at the expense of the settlement claimants without submitting any evidence that it has paid or will have to pay any improper claims as a result of the issues raised in its renewed motion," said the response filing.

Read the full story at Times-Picayune>>

National Fisherman Live

National Fisherman Live: 3/10/15

In this episode, Online Editor Leslie Taylor talks with Mike McLouglin, vice president of Dunlop Industrial and Protective Footwear.

National Fisherman Live: 2/24/15

In this episode:

March date set for disaster aid dispersal
Oregon LNG project could disrupt fishing
NOAA tweaks gear marking requirement
N.C. launches first commercial/recreational dock
Spiny lobster traps limits not well received

Inside the Industry

NMFS announced two changes in regulations that apply to federal fishing permit holders starting Aug. 26.

First, they have eliminated the requirement for vessel owners to submit “did not fish” reports for the months or weeks when their vessel was not fishing.

Some of the restrictions for upgrading vessels listed on federal fishing permits have also been removed.

Read more...

Alaskans will meet with British Columbia’s Minister of Energy and Mines, Bill Bennett, when he visits Juneau next week and will ask him to support an international review of mine developments in northwest British Columbia, upstream from Southeast Alaska along the Taku, Stikine and Unuk transboundary rivers.

Some Alaska fishing and environmental groups believe an international review is the best way to develop specific, binding commitments to ensure clean water, salmon, jobs and traditional and customary practices are not harmed by British Columbia mines and that adequate financial assurances are in place up front to cover long-term monitoring and compensation for damages.

Read more...
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