OUR VIEW: Deal doesn’t mark end of BP debacle

A proposed agreement could mark one of the largest class action settlements ever, yielding thousands of plaintiffs a share of approximately $7.8 billion from BP.

The landmark deal might end one chapter of the historic April 20, 2010 Deepwater Horizon blowout explosion and 200 million gallon oil release at Macondo Prospect, but it does not conclude the story.

Although compensation in this case comes from a $20 billion trust fund, it does not settle federal fines, penalties and claims filed by Gulf States and impacted parishes in Louisiana.

This funding includes BP’s previously committed $2.3 billion promise to compensate the seafood industry. It is also divided into two separate agreements to address economic loss and medical claims.

Friday’s settlement with the Plaintiff’s Steering Committee does not resolve any damage done to coastal marshlands and natural habitat for wildlife. Nor does it speed up a return of shrimp and oyster harvests to pre-spill levels.

It does not answer cases filed with the Gulf Coast Claims Facility, although administrator Kenneth Feinberg insists the GCCF has paid $6.1 billion to 220,000 claimants.

Most of all, the announced settlement will never replace the loss experienced by the families of the 11 men who perished during that tragic event.

BP was vilified by the mainstream national media during and following the largest oil spill in North American history. The Deepwater Horizon disaster offered ammunition to a U.S. president who by his response with a drilling moratorium and recommendation to controlled vessel movement in the Gulf demonstrated personal animosity against the petroleum industry.

BP by many accounts has demonstrated good will by accepting accountability and not turning its back on the Gulf Coast. An example of this was seen when the corporation presented $4 million to Fletcher Technical Community College for construction of a new Production Learning Center.

The events that transpired almost two years ago became a wakeup call for all parties involved.

It put a spotlight on the oil industry regarding safety concerns employees working on offshore rigs had for a long time.

It broadened awareness of the Gulf Coast parishes’ worries regarding the fragile ecosystem and associated land loss. The Times-Picayune reports the Marine Spill Response Corp., a group funded by oil companies such as Chevron, Exxon Mobile, ConocoPhillips, Shell and, yes, BP, continues to expand its resources in the event of another disaster.

It even brought environmental and industrial interests closer together in understanding how they might exist side-by-side.

This proposed settlement does not resolve the most complex clams against BP, nor does it automatically rebuilt industry and natural resources along the Gulf Coast.

One chapter of the BP saga might be nearing an end, but the story is far from complete.