Crist asks for BP claims data as new complaints raised

Gov. Charlie Crist on Tuesday asked BP for claims information submitted as a result of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill while other state and local officials expressed frustration with the company. The governor on May 11 created the Oil Spill Economic Recovery Task Force to help businesses and industry recover from the loss of business and revenue related to the ongoing oil leak since April 20.

On Monday, members of the task force’s economic impact assessment working group said there was an urgent need for more data to assess the loss. In response, Crist on Tuesday sent a letter to BP Chief Operating Officer Doug Suttles asking the company to submit an electronic file of every business, individual and governmental claim made in Florida. Crist noted that many business owners and residents “are concerned that they have not received the full amount of money they have requested” and that they are curious how long it will take.

Also Tuesday, members of the Task Force communications working group raised concerns with BP representatives about the delays facing local governments in get claims payments. Gulf County Commissioner Bill Williams, Destin Mayor Sarah “Sam” Seevers and Dawn A. Moliterno of the Beaches of South Walton Tourist Development Council said expressed frustration with the claims process.

Williams said counties that had been working through the Florida Department of Environmental Protection now need to be walked through the new process with BP. “We’ve got to get a very clear and consistent message with our counties, and not just focus on the six (Panhandle counties) that have been impacted,” Williams said. “The others down the road are saying, ‘What are we doing?’ “

Seevers said BP had a community representative in Okaloosa County for two weeks. Once people got to know him and were comfortable, the company removed him and he wasn’t replaced. BP representative Kathy Randall said the company had been trying to rotate community representatives. “I think what we have found is relationships are very important in those communities,” Randall said.

The BP claims processing working group of the Oil Spill Economic Recovery Task Force meets Wednesday at 9 a.m. Darryl Willis, vice president of BP Exploration and Production, Inc., is scheduled to speak. Go to for more information on the meeting.

(Story provided by The Florida Tribune. Story copyrighted by Bruce Ritchie and Do not copy or redistribute without permission, which can be obtained by contacting