This should come as no surprise to anyone who has been paying attention:
Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour disagreed with a report by US House Republicans that said letting BP lead recovery efforts for the Macondo spill was “outright offensive” to Gulf Coast residents.
Barbour, a Republican, told the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee today that BP was sometimes more responsive than the federal government to requests from state officials after the April 2010 spill, Bloomberg reported.
“In fairness, to BP, to us, everything we asked them to do, they considered, and almost every time they did it,” Barbour said.
The report also cited “wide-spread concerns” about mismanagement of a $20 billion compensation fund set up by BP that create “unnecessary confusion among potential claimants in the Gulf States”.
The claims facility, overseen by Washington lawyer Kenneth Feinberg, has paid more than $4.3 billion in emergency and final payments to spill victims.
Barbour said he’s received few complaints.
“I think they are trying to do a good job,” Barbour said. Applying for compensation through the fund is “sure better than to litigate this”, he said.
There are few who would argue that BP didn’t f*ck up badly on the Macondo well, but that part of their performance was pretty much limited to the period before the Deepwater Horizon sunk. After that, BP swung into action with money, people, and resources on a scale never seen before. By any standards, let alone those of the industry, the response was impressive and the delay in capping the well was down to the technological complexity of the task, not BP’s response. True, they didn’t manage the PR campaign too well, but they were never going to win that battle despite throwing compensation money around right from the outset. My opinion is that it is better to tackle the actual problem and lose the PR campaign than the other way around, and there are few (and I mean very few) other companies who could have responded to the spill in such a manner. Had the government been given the task, we’d probably still be bogged down in pay negotiations with unions and the EPA would be holding seminars on how high to build sand berms. In many ways, the US is lucky that the spill happened on a BP well (with the added bonus of the company being British); had this happened to almost anyone else, they’d have filed for bankrupcy or fled the US minutes after the Deepwater Horizon touched bottom. Expect the BP response to be used as a case study in the years to come, possibly even becoming an industry benchmark.