A few days ago I was talking with several Louisiana fishermen regarding their health issues that are related to the BP oil spill. I was touched by one gentleman’s story of how he opted to take the “Feinberg settlement” and how he reinvested most of this money back into his business in hope that he would be back to work as soon as possible. These hopes hinged on the fact that BP, some scientists, and our government had stated that the oil was 75% gone and the beaches were safe because of articles and statements like the following:
Nearly three-fourths of oil from the BP spill is gone from the Gulf of Mexico, with 26 percent remaining as a sheen or tarballs, buried in sediment, or washed ashore, U.S. scientists said Wednesday. (http://www.cnbc.com/id/38557692/Nearly_75_of_BP_Spill_Oil_Is_Gone_From_Gulf_Scientists) and
President Obama declared Gulf Coast beaches clean, safe, and open for business Saturday as he brought his family to the Florida Panhandle and promised residents that the government wouldn’t forget them once efforts to stop the leak are finished. (http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2010-08-14-obama-florida-trip_N.htm)
I know in my heart-of-hearts that he is not alone and may others had taken that initial settlement thinking that they would be back to work shortly. The fact is that BP and Feinberg knew that they had so many of the folks in the Gulf Coast Region over a barrel because many of them were not able to work their regular jobs and support their families due to the spill. Some of these folks were looking at repossession of property, eviction, talks of foreclosure, and the sense of failure because they were not able to provide for their families.
One thing that I have learned over the years is that the people in this Region are hard-working, resilient, proud, with a sense of pride in their heritage. Most of them are multi-generational fishermen, shrimpers, crabbers, oystermen, etc. and their way-of-life is in jeopardy for not only them but their children.
The hope comes from a conversation that I had yesterday with Loyola Law Professor Blaine LeCesne. There will be more to come on this as soon as I have more information.