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The state of Florida, the Insurance Journal reports, is unhappy with BP. Again. The troubled oil company brought $25 million more to Florida on Tuesday, but the reaction was not gratitude, but criticism.
Florida Governor Charlie Crist and three independently elected Cabinet members asked for more money from BP, and demanded it swiftly in order to help residents of their state recover business losses caused by the Gulf of Mexico oil spill which has been rapidly encroaching upon the Sunshine State’s coastline. The informed Bob Fryar, BP senior vice president, that time is of the essence, because thousands of local businesses are on the brink of failure.
Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink told Fryar, “I don’t think speed is in your vocabulary yet. People are just trying to survive.”
Governor Crist, who is seeking a U.S. Senate seat as an independent, asked BP for more of everything: booms and skimmers to clean up slicks and sheen, money for cleanup, money for advertising, and claims offices in every coastal county in his state. “We demand it,” he said. “You’re a company with enormous resources.”
The most recent $25 million infusion from BP was targeted toward Florida’s costs of responding to the spill, and brings the total monies the state has already received from the company to $75 million. Before Tuesday’s meeting, Florida had already requested another $125 million.
Fryar, a petroleum engineer with 25 years of tenure at the London-based BP responded, saying, “We’re trying to make sure people with legitimate claims will be paid quickly. BP will pay all legitimate claims.”
He also said that BP had paid 18,500 of the 38,000 claims received to date.
The spill from the Deepwater Horizon explosion nearly two months ago in the Gulf of Mexico has threatened the tourism, fishing and hospitality industries in Florida. Tar balls washing ashore in the extreme western Florida Panhandle are also causing tourists to be dubious about the state as a wise choice of vacation destination this year.
Both Sink and Crist urged Fryar to have BP officials visit businesses hurt by the expanding spill.
“It’s no fun watching grown men cry,” Sink said. “That’s what I’ve seen.”
Attorney General Bill McCollum, who, like Sink, is hoping to succeed Crist as Florida’s governor in November, had very few positive remarks about BP’s handling of the crisis. “I don’t think you’ve done enough,” McCollum chastised the oil company. “There’s got to be more that you can be doing.”