Thursday, June 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: Congress should ban splitting kids, parents

Editorial: Congress should ban splitting kids, parents

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Updated: 2 hours ago
Editorial: A court victory for protecting Florida’s environment

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A Tallahassee judge has affirmed the overwhelming intent of Florida voters by ruling that state lawmakers have failed to comply with a constitutional amendment that is supposed to provide a specific pot of money to buy and preserve endangered lands. ...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/20/18
Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

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Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/19/18

Editorial: ATF should get tougher on gun dealers who violate the law

Gun dealers who break the law by turning a blind eye to federal licensing rules are as dangerous to society as people who have no right to a possess a firearm in the first place. Yet a recent report shows that the federal agency responsible for polic...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/18/18
Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

The new grass-roots effort to put a transportation package before Hillsborough County voters in November faces a tough slog. Voters rejected a similar effort in 2010, and another in 2016 by elected officials never made it from the gate. But the lates...
Published: 06/15/18
Editorial: 40 years later, honoring remarkable legacy of Nelson Poynter

Editorial: 40 years later, honoring remarkable legacy of Nelson Poynter

Forty years ago today, Nelson Poynter died. He was the last individual to own this newspaper, and to keep the Times connected to this community, he did something remarkable. He gave it away.In his last years, Mr. Poynter recognized that sooner or lat...
Published: 06/15/18

There was no FBI anti-Trump conspiracy

The Justice Department released Thursday the highly anticipated report on the FBI’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email probe and other sensitive issues in the 2016 election. It is not the report President Donald Trump wanted. But there is enough i...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Voter purge may be legal, but it’s also suppression

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Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Editorial: Free rides will serve as a test of whether the streetcar is serious transportation

Who wouldn’t jump at the chance to ride for free?This fall, the TECO Streetcar Line eliminates its $2.50-a-ride-fare, providing the best opportunity yet to see whether the system’s vintage streetcar replicas can serve as a legitimate transportation a...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

AT&T and the case for digital innovation

A good way to guarantee you’ll be wrong about something is to predict the future of technology. As in, "One day, we’ll all …" Experts can hazard guesses about artificial intelligence, driverless cars or the death of cable television, but technologica...
Published: 06/14/18