Just over one year out from the BP oil spill that wreaked havoc up and down the Gulf Coast, the tourism industry there is so far having one of its best summers in years. BP is latching on to the good news, using it to argue in a court filing recently that “there is no basis to assume that claimants, with very limited exceptions, will incur a future loss related to the spill.”
But with so little time having passed, is it too soon to make such assumptions? Could the good fortune of the tourism industry this summer be a fluke, or more likely yet, an effect of the upward swing of the U.S. economy in general since 2009?
Furthermore, while BP is fighting for the right to pay Gulf-area claimants less for possible future losses, the issue of whether or not to remove underwater mats of oil, discovered even recently sitting just off shore, keeps residents worried for their future. In the event that a tropical storm or hurricane passes through the Gulf, those submerged mats of oil and tar could wind up sitting on the beach yet again. —BF
The New York Times:
Since the spill last year, messages from the coast have been somewhat mixed, with some businesses arguing that it is continuing to hurt the coast and that more assistance is needed, and others, often led by tourism officials, emphasizing the positive to entice visitors and consumers.
This is not necessarily contradictory, as the effects of the spill were infuriatingly uneven, and a business does not have to be empty to be hurting. But the summer of 2011, a strong one by a variety of measures, has made this balance harder to strike.
BP has long taken issue with the formula created by Kenneth R. Feinberg, who oversees the Gulf Coast Claims Facility, which is dispensing BP’s $20 billion compensation fund. Under the formula, settlements would generally be double the demonstrable losses from 2010, with money previously paid by the fund subtracted.
Flickr / amerune (CC-BY)
The northern Gulf coast of Florida as seen in 2005.