Saturday, April 21, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Don't let BP back out on deal

Polluting the Gulf of Mexico with millions of barrels of oil was bad enough. BP wants the courts to save money by rewriting the terms of a settlement agreement in the 2010 blowout of the offshore rig Deepwater Horizon. This looks like buyers' remorse from a company that benefited from having thousands of individual claims resolved in a single swoop. An appellate court Friday correctly held BP to the settlement it signed. The company and the courts should now turn their attention to ensuring an orderly flow to the claims process.

In court filings and national newspaper advertisements, BP has faulted the administration of the Gulf settlement program — the fund established in 2012 to pay for economic losses from the spill. It alleged fraud, corruption and questionable payments. U.S. District Court Judge Carl Barbier, who is overseeing the case, denied BP's request last month that claimants be forced to prove any damages were caused directly by the spill. Barbier noted that the settlement included a waiver for claimants in zones nearer to the spill, creating an assumption that the claims were valid. This blanket language was the price BP accepted to resolve these claims in a timely manner and to avoid thousands of individual lawsuits.

The court-appointed fund administrator has an obligation to process the claims responsibly and root out any fraud. But at more than 1,000 pages, the settlement is hardly a half-baked framework for determining the legitimacy of monetary losses. BP has legal avenues to ensure the fund administrator and the trial courts disburse the money appropriately. It also has a legal duty to stand by the agreement.

The settlement, after all, gave BP some certainty about the extent of its liability for the spill in exchange for getting money into the hands of its victims as quickly as possible. That trade-off is a straightforward principle of contract law. It shouldn't be torpedoed by a public relations campaign aimed at undoing an agreement one side suddenly finds unacceptable.

BP initially projected the settlement would cost $7.8 billion; in October, it boosted that figure to $9.2 billion. That cannot be a consideration for the courts. The only issue that matters is BP's legal obligation in the settlement agreement, which also had a goal getting reparations to victims without undue delay. The spill to many whose lives and businesses were harmed is not a fading memory. The courts are right to enforce the agreement and hold both the company and the claims program accountable for delivering on the promises made in the aftermath of the nation's worst environmental disaster.

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Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

For all the symbolism, Raul Castro’s handoff of the Cuban presidency this week amounts to less than meets the eye even if his handpicked successor, the Communist Party functionary Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez, is the first person not named Castro to le...
Published: 04/20/18

Editorial: A missed chance for open primary elections

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission did a lot of things wrong this week by combining unrelated or unpalatable provisions into single amendments that will appear on the November ballot. It also wasted an opportunity to do one thing right. The...
Published: 04/20/18
Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

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The Hillsborough school district planted a fruitful seed with the opening of Nature’s Classroom five decades ago on the cypress-lined banks of the Hillsborough River northeast of Tampa. • The lessons taught there to some 17,000 sixth graders each yea...
Published: 04/20/18

Editorial: Equality pays off on Southwest Flight 1380

The passengers of Southwest Flight 1380 can be thankful that, 33 years ago, the U.S. Navy took the lead on equal opportunity.Capt. Tammie Jo Shults was piloting the flight from New York to Dallas on Tuesday when an engine exploded, blowing out a wind...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18
Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Anyone looking to make Hillsborough County government bigger, costlier, more dysfunctional and less of a regional force should love the idea that Commissioner Sandy Murman rolled out this week. She proposes enlarging the seven-member board to nine, e...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18
Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

A new foster care provider in Hillsborough County is poised to take over operations in May, only months after its predecessor was fired for what was alleged to be a pattern of failing to supervise at-risk children in its care. Many of the case manage...
Published: 04/18/18

Another voice: Back to postal reform

President Donald Trump is angry at Amazon for, in his tweeted words, "costing the United States Post Office massive amounts of money for being their Delivery Boy." Yet in more recent days, Trump has at least channeled his feelings in what could prove...
Published: 04/17/18
Updated: 04/18/18
Editorial: Congress should protect independence of special counsel

Editorial: Congress should protect independence of special counsel

A bipartisan Senate bill clarifying that only the attorney general or a high-ranking designee could remove a special prosecutor would send an important message amid President Donald Trump’s attacks on the investigation into Russia’s inter...
Published: 04/16/18
Updated: 04/17/18
Editorial: Don’t fall for Constitution Revision Commission’s tricks

Editorial: Don’t fall for Constitution Revision Commission’s tricks

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission has wasted months as a politically motivated scam masquerading as a high-minded effort to ask voters to improve the state’s fundamental document. The commission on Monday added amendments to the Nove...
Published: 04/16/18
Editorial: Redner’s court win on medical marijuana sends message

Editorial: Redner’s court win on medical marijuana sends message

Florida regulators have done far too little to make voter-approved medical marijuana widely available for patients suffering from chronic illnesses. A circuit court judge in Tallahassee ruled last week there is a price for that obstruction, finding t...
Published: 04/15/18
Updated: 04/16/18