Nightly News | August 23, 2010
WILLIAMS: Good evening.
BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor: And once again tonight, all eyes are on the Gulf of Mexico , where we are days away from marking the fifth anniversary of Katrina , where they have 90 days worth of crude oil in that water. Today the massive BP fund, $20 billion, designed to make it right, as they say in their commercials, starts to get handed out. There's one man in charge of it, a New England lawyer named Kenneth Feinberg . And can you imagine having that job? He's the authority who will get to decide who gets what and when. And the gulf region 's full of people who've suffered real hurt as a result of all that oil in the water. We begin again tonight with our chief environmental affairs correspondent Anne Thompson in Venice , Louisiana . Anne , good evening.
ANNE THOMPSON reporting: Good evening, Brian . You know, Venice once called itself very proudly the fishing capital of the world . To reclaim that title, the fishermen and business people here need financial help. So you will understand while the peep -- why the people in Venice and, indeed, across the Gulf Coast are looking at the man who will decide how much they will get for all that they've lost. Ken Feinberg is the $20 billion man.
Mr. KENNETH FEINBERG (Gulf Coast Claims Facility Independent Administrator): Here's another reason you've got to fill out the form.
THOMPSON: Today he barnstormed the Mississippi coast, explaining the new Gulf Coast Claims Facility , replacing the BP claims service that made few people happy.
Mr. FEINBERG: I will come back here as much as possible.
THOMPSON: Feinberg wants people whose jobs and businesses were harmed by the spill to apply for an emergency payment equal to six months losses, but those people are skeptical of a man appointed by President Obama and administering funds from BP .
Mr. FEINBERG: When the administration and BP set up this program, they set it up with me as totally independent. If anybody thinks that I'm beholden to either the administration or BP , I can only tell them just watch what this facility does in the way of compensation over the next few weeks and months, and you will see, not through talk but deed, how independent this facility really is.
THOMPSON: In its four-month effort, BP says it received 154,000 claims. They came from all 50 states . BP paid out $399 million. Now, today Feinberg was just talking about the emergency payments the people can file for from now until November 23rd . Next year he'll deal with final settlements, and those are expected to be far more contentious and controversial because in some cases some people may have to forfeit their right to sue BP to get that money.
Brian: Anne Thompson on Captain Jane 's boat in what was the once, and let's hope the future, fishing capital of the world , Venice , Louisiana . Anne , thanks.