Attorney General Eric Holder emphasized the need for speed and transparency of recovery efforts along parts of the Gulf Coast affected by last year’s BP oil spill during his visit to the area Thursday, the Alabama Press-Register reported.
“Physically, I’m looking at a place that is fundamentally different than a year ago. It is recovering, and that is very heartening,” Holder said at a press conference. “But after today, I am concerned about the way the claims process is being run.”
He said that the Gulf Coast Claims Facility, which manages the disbursement of about $20 billion in recovery claims under the direction of attorney Kenneth Feinberg, needs to run more quickly.
“I am a little worried about the pace and the transparency,” Holder said. “We have to ensure that it keeps pace with the restoration of this most beautiful part of the country.”
Feinberg has been criticized by Rep. Jo Bonner (R-Ala.) and several other Alabama officials for paying claims too slowly and shrouding the criteria he uses when evaluating them.
But Holder did cut Feinberg some slack.
“I know he and his people are trying,” he said. “But this was an extraordinary event. It has had a major impact on the communities here and on the lives of a great many people. We need to do the best we can by our fellow citizens.”
Holder met with fishermen in Dauphin Island, Ala., Thursday morning before heading to meet with Bonner, Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange and U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Alabama Kenyen Brown.
He also reassured Gulf residents that the Justice Department will continue to investigate criminal and civil action against BP.
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