BP Agrees To $20 Billion Fund To Help Gulf Victims
DEBORAH AMOS, Host:
It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Deborah Amos.
STEVE INSKEEP, Host:
The escrow fund for taking care of Gulf Coast damages brings to mind the government's fund for the financial bailout. Nobody really knows how much it will cost to fix the problem so they've chosen a very large number to start.
AMOS: NPR's John Ydstie reports.
JOHN YDSTIE: BP has said all along it will compensate businesses and individuals harmed by the oil spill. President Obama says the escrow fund provides a financial and legal framework to make sure that happens.
BARACK OBAMA: This $20 billion will provide substantial assurance that the claims people and businesses have will be honored. It's also important to emphasize this is not a cap. The people of the Gulf have my commitment that BP will meet its obligations to them.
YDSTIE: BP chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg, speaking in the White House driveway after the meeting, said the agreement should give the American people confidence that BP means what it says.
CARL: We will look after the people affected. And we will repair the environmental damage to this region and to the economy.
YDSTIE: In his post-meeting remarks, the president addressed those people directly.
OBAMA: So if you or your business has suffered an economic loss as a result of this spill, you'll be eligible to file a claim for part of this $20 billion.
YDSTIE: Steve Roady, an attorney at Earthjustice, a public interest law firm, says the president does.
STEVE ROADY: I think the government has a very strong case that they have the authority to require the responsible party to pay all the costs, especially with a disaster like this.
YDSTIE: But, says Cohen, BP had other reasons to acquiesce to the president's call for an escrow fund.
MARK COHEN: You know, they have an enormous public relations problem. They're trying very hard to work through that. Realistically, they're looking at $20 billion and saying, we're going to have to pay one way or the other. And I think they're acting - you know, it's just an attempt for them to show some good faith.
YDSTIE: John Ydstie, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
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