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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

With session looming, Dean Cannon orders investigation of oil spill claims process



Florida House Speaker Dean Cannon has ordered the House Economic Affairs Committee to review the private compensation process set in motion after the BP oil spill, citing "numerous breakdowns and inconsistencies" with the facility tasked with processing claims, according to a Thursday letter he sent to the committee chairwoman.

The Gulf Coast Claims Facility has paid about $1.2 billion to 68,221 claimants as of Monday, Cannon wrote. That's out of 157,297 claimants in ithe facility's system. The Obama administration and BP chose Kenneth Feinberg to lead the facility, which opened in August and distributes money to claimants from an escrow account funded by BP. BP is supposed to pay $20 billion over the next four years.

Cannon asked the committee's chairwoman, Rep. Dorothy Hukill, R-Port Orange, to invite representatives of areas affected by the oil spill to be part of the investigation, as well as Rep. Gary Aubuchon, R-Cape Coral. Aubuchon led House workgroups that reviewed the issue last summer, before the claims facility opened.

"Fostering an economic environment that leads to private sector job creation is our top priority over the next two years," Cannon wrote. "At the state level, we must work to ensure that those Floridians who suffered losses as a result of the Deepwater Horizon Incident are made whole, and that obligation requires us to keep abreast of any problems within the current claims process."

[Last modified: Thursday, January 13, 2011 11:57am]


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