A U.S. Representative from New Orleans is pressing the administrator of the Gulf Coast Claims Facility to extend a new, more generous compensation protocol to more commercial shrimpers and crabbers who were harmed by the 2010 BP oil spill. According to a report from the New Orleans Times-Picayune, U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-New Orleans, and members of the Asian Pacific American Caucus asked that the new formula apply to about 4,000 shrimpers and crabbers who have already received settlements from the Gulf Coast Claims Facility.
Last week, Gulf Coast Claims Facility administrator, Kenneth Feinberg, announced that qualified commercial shrimpers and crabbers would be eligible for compensation based on four times their 2010 losses from now on. The previous formula had paid out compensation equal to twice their losses, but Feinberg said that new evidence had indicated that the April 2010 BP oil spill was still hurting commercial shrimping and crabbing.
In his letter to Feinberg, Richards asserts that it would be easy to increase the final payments to shrimpers and crabbers who’ve already settled claims. Co-signing Richmond’s letter were Rep. Al Green, D-Texas, as well as Reps. Judy Chu and Michael Honda, California Democrats. All of the lawmakers represent Asian American communities that are homes to large contingents of Vietnamese American shrimpers who could be affected by Feinberg’s decision, the Times-Picayune said.
Feinberg told the Times-Picayune that he would consider the lawmakers’ suggestions.
How many already-paid commercial shrimpers and crabbers could be impacted by extending the payments would depend on how many went through the fully-reviewed claims process, versus those who opted to accept “quick payments” of $5,000 for individuals and $25,000 for businesses, the Times-Picayune said. Those who chose the “quick payment” option were not required to provide extensive documentation to the Gulf Coast Claims Facility. Retroactively applying the formula to that group could be difficult, especially since the new payment protocol requires more detailed documentation to ensure the claimants are true commercial shrimpers and crabbers.