U.S. Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), Chairman of the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Committee, today made the following statement regarding the $212 million settlement agreement between Gulf Coast individuals and business owners and Transocean Ltd., the owner of the Deepwater Horizon rig that caused the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
“Five years ago, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill took the lives of 11 men in the Gulf of Mexico and devastated our coasts. Louisianians, our local communities, and economies were deeply affected, which is why I’ve been working to make sure this kind of tragedy never happens again,” said Vitter. “Small business owners and other Louisiana residents went through bureaucratic hell to get their claims, and far too many have remained outstanding. This week’s settlement agreement, though much delayed, will help more Louisianians who lost so much restore their livelihoods.”
Vitter has been a champion in getting Louisianians’ claims paid for due to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill damages. He set up a claims help hotline for constituents and forced a great deal of accountability to the Gulf Coast Claims Facility (GCCF), which was created after the oil spill. Vitter pushed the Administration and the GCCF to ensure that those in the Louisiana seafood industry who were directly impacted were not ignored. Claims for businesses and individuals in retail sales and service jobs, such as restaurants, bars or hotels, were able to get their claims processed quickly. Very few fishermen or seafood processors and distributors, whose jobs are directly tied to the offshore spill zone, were paid during the initial claims process.
There are two categories of oil spill victims who are eligible for this Transocean settlement: 1) Individuals and businesses already part of the multibillion-dollar settlement reached with BP in 2012 are eligible; and 2) Individuals, businesses and local governments who have claims for punitive damages under general maritime law are also eligible.