Breaking News Since this Morning when this was Posted: Numerous reports confirm that BP agreed in a closed session at the White House to put $20 billion in an escrow account to pay victims claims. This is of course good news if it is borne out by the facts. It is also true that it does no answer to all things which are threatened for which claims may be slow to emerge. Nonetheless, the Obama administration and others are to be congratulated on their efforts. Ken Feinberg who administered the 9-11 settlements and has acted as the Obama pay czar is in charge. He has a talent for achieving settlements which are low but not entirely unfair. He is one of the most mysterious characters of our life times if one really examines the matter. However, KF is a very gifted man. Nothing below this paragraph was edited in this post because of this news.
I am going to put forward a few questions and even fewer proposals related to and inspired by the great BP Oil Spill. Last night I commemorated the one year anniversary of my grandmother’s death and my own 46th birthday with about 30 of my mother’s family members. I also received greetings from scores of other people. I am grateful to all who added to the occasion. There are always those one would have hoped to hear from but doesn’t, however it was most gratifying. However, it is notable that many of us were discussing the oil spill much of the time.
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On August 2, 2010 I am adding a bit more content to this already overbrudened blog. As chance would have it I never really spent a proportional amount of writing time on my grand mother Beverlee Hollier Gremillion’s death. It was at the time of my 45th birthday and within days of my brother’s wedding in which I was involved and in addition to all of this I was sort of between wrting outlets. That opprtunity has past and I am not going to try to recapture it now. But I am going to add a note to this anniversary note deep in my past posts. On June 15, 2010 we went to a memorial service before going to eat at Schuck’s restaurant. My grandmother was able to run a crew of servants and part-time employees who were helping her do ten things at once. She had relationships across class and race and income that she attended to and was involved in a sort of empire of small things with my grandfather. Their holdings included apartment complexes, rental houses, presidency of a modest port facility, presidency of a savings and loan, a few furniture stores and real estate speculation. She could and did paint and draw and create decorative scenes and effects. I called her Mamon with an accent grave over the “o”. She sang me a little song that rhymed my name with questions about travel and adventure when I was a child.
She was a great cook and loved to feed people. She had a tremendous capacity for embarassment. She was embarassed by ancestors who may have slept around and engangered family legitimacy of some sort. She was embarassed by ancestors who were prudish, sticklers and concerned about legitmacy and marital fidelity. She was embarassed by aristocratic ancestors who exalted themselves over their neighbors. She was embarassed by ancestors who were plain and democratic in their views and ways. She was ambarassesed by skepticism, atheism and religous fervor. She was embarassed by each of the German, French, Acadian and Anglo branches of her ancestry at one time or another.She was embarassed by Hebrew and anti-Semitic ancestors. She was embarassed by ancestors who were Unionists and those who were confederates. She was embarassed by relatives who were chaste and religious, those who were homosexual, those who were remarrried, those who were promiscuous and those who were faithful homebodies. Easier to undertand was one particular side of the family which in two particular generations had more than two people who in their lives both served time and were in mental institutions. Yet, she and I disagreed profoundly about the propoer strategy for not driving an entire family to crime and madness. The only person she was never embarassed of in my presence was who ever was dependent upon her because of terrible publicly known trouble deserved or not at that particular time. But it was not wise to have too many troubles only you and she were privy to.
She respected her artistic and business savvy mother whom we all knew had starved her of affection all her life. Her compensation had been a father who had been electrocuted when she was a young woman. The details are uncertain to me. She drank, through wild parties, smoked a great deal and had many friends who were respectable and many who bad and dangerous to know. She could be cruel and merciless and our separate struggles with Christianity were very different.
I think of her often. She was one of the great influences upon my life. I have always considered her an example of how many bad things can exist in the moemory of one person and have them still go on living.
Beverlee Hollier Gremillion was a single Louisiana life. It is hard to imagine understanding her very much at all in a quick and fleeting relationship. Everyone is different but she was different in a Louisiana way.
Remembering her reminds me of all that Ken Feinber and other have to figure out. I will return to my text as it was at the end of this paragraph knowing I have other posts explaining how he could come to know this place netter and address the needs of those who live here.
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I would urge anyone to try to put into place some of the provisions of my rather long-standing (if evolving) proposals for Louisiana coastal policy. https://franksummers3ba.wordpress.com/2009/10/02/ideal-wetlands-policy-on-the-louisiana-coast/
I will say that proposal means a comprehensive barrier island plan, innovation, urban and flood waters redistribution and many other things. But read the post — it is not long.
Questions One through Three:
1. How quickly will the Bobby Jindal (Dutch Engineer Plan) Barrier Island enhancement plan be completed? Included in this can safe construction wastes, key jetties, grass planting and other items be included in the initial plan no matter how funded?
2. Could Federal Disaster Funds be used to pay for even a few cut in bad old oil levees in the Atchafalaya Basin which have been recognised as needed and which could increase key water control just about now and in the future?
3. Can some of the unspent Federal Stimulus monies be used to hold an emergency environmental summit on the Gulf Coast which shows cooperation with BP even if we jail, bankrupt and disgrace them (because this is a crisis calling for the carrot and the stick as well as the rest of the arsenal of options)?
When one is really on the outs in the way that I am all proposals are against ones own interest. Whatever is done it will probably hurt one’s own position in more ways than it helps one. That is the nature of being far enough out. But here is another proposal:
The Energy Minerals Indemnity Program Going Forward:
1. I propose that whether imported or produced here going forward there be a set of surcharges on fossil fuels. All of these would be administered By a sub agency called the Energy Mineral Indemnity Program:
a. i. I propose that there be fifty cent per barrel charge for crude oil,
ii. I propose that there be fifty cent per cubic mile charge on all produced natural gas and a thirty cent percent per cubic mile charge on all flared gas.
iii. I propose that there be fifty cent per ton charge on all coal.
iv.In addition every single safety violation recorded by and state or federal agency would be classified as major or minor. A major violation would trigger a contribution of $100 to the Energy Minerals Indemnity Program and a minor violation would trigger a contribution of $10 to the same program.
All of these charges would be in addition to all existing taxes except that it would replace the current (I believe it is eight cents per barrel) which oil companies pay into the OPA fund. All payments would be divided in the same way. The first 25% would go into a fund for Disaster Response for all Energy Minerals and accessible by all energy mining and moving companies. The second 35% would go into a mineral specific Disaster Response fund: an Oil Disaster Fund, a Natural Gas Disaster Fund, and a Coal Disaster Fund. Then 15 % of all funds would support a Clearinghouse Office for Species and Ecosystem Support in the EPA which would offer grants and expertise for state, local and private organizations create nature reserves, hatcheries, rescue programs, spill barriers and other infrastructure to proactively protect nature near and in the path of energy production. The next 10% would support an Energy Whistleblower’s and Investigation Board under the joint management of Interior and Justice Departments. Another 10% would Go to an Alternative Energy Investment Planning Office. This office would give development grants to alternate energy enterprises which would agree to offer their business for sale in a kind of venture capital auction to the fee paying energy companies first. Very modest tax incentives would be offered in addition to this development seed money to participating energy companies that acquired these assets. The next 4% would be held in an escrow account earning interest in the name of each rate paying entity. The last 1% would be paid to a reinsurance pool in which all insurance companies operating in the energy sector would be required to participate.
Accessing the 65% of the funds which have an insurance role would be done as follows.
1. A pure ten million dollar deductible would attach to every year and every incident for each payer for which they would get no cash at all. After ten million dollars they could access their administered escrow account to pay claims in a speedy manner to third parties but not to mitigate the disaster directly.
2. No funds other than administered escrow accounts would be accessible until fifty million dollars in harm for natural gas and coal and one hundred million for oil. That would be the Threshold Deductible Amount.
3. After reaching the Threshold each payer would co-pay 25% of costs from the threshold to one billion dollars. They would co-pay 45% from one billion to three billion dollars. They would co-pay 75% from three billion to ten billion dollars. After ten billion dollars they would be required to pay the entirety. The reinsurance program would be structured so as to require participating insurers by law to make it certain that the fund could meet its own side of these obligations. Insurers would have an incentive to push for greater safety as well.
Questions Four through Seven:
4. Will existing insurers be brought to a summit soon?
5. Will an integrated safety archives be created soon?
6. Will states be invite to file white papers expressing long-term safety concerns?
7. Will we learn from this terrible tragedy?