The BP Gulf of Mexico oil spill will likely pay out well for lawyers and industry lobbyists. Litigation will be grueling and may take over 20 years.
BP has agreed to pay $20 billion to Gulf coast victims, many experts have predicted BP will pay $45-$90 billion in the end.
It is likely those seeking financial compensation will have to wait 10 to 20 years to see any payments, which is the precedent seen from the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska.
Unlike the Exxon Valdez oil spill, the Gulf spill affects many more people directly. The population of the region is much greater and many depend on the Gulf for their livelihoods. The spill in Alaska caused the small population to leave; their homes and food sources were destroyed. Similar outcomes may occur in the Gulf.
“It should be related to the Chevron case of the drilling in the Amazon where we have studied the health effects,” said journalist Greg Palast.
Palast explained that through the air and water, perhaps without even noticing it, adults and especially children can be affected by long-term health issues, including childhood leukemia.
The billions of dollars offered up by BP are likely to end spent on lawyers and lobbyists, with little actually getting to those who are victims of the spill. Palast argues that the politically connected and state governments will also absorb a large portion of the money.
“I would expect BP to spend $50 to $100 Million on its legal expenses. Don’t forget, you’ve got Trans-Ocean which owned the rig; you’ve got BP’s partners Anadarko and Mitsui. So really, it’s a defense lawyer’s field day!” said Palast.
He also argued that lobbyists are going to make loads of money as well, paid by the oil industry to push for drilling operation to be reopened, both in the Gulf and in Alaska.
Palast argued that the courts should be in charge of the money, as opposed to political officials.
“It should be left to the courts and not seized by the president or seized by the congress. I trust the courts, I trust juries and judges more than I trust the politicians on this one,” said Palast.