Tuesday, July 20, 2010
The cap on the Gulf of Mexico oil gusher has raised hopes that the flow may be contained, but the legal effects of the disaster are just getting rolling. The court battles could drag on for 20 years, says Emory environmental law expert William Buzbee.
The federal government has announced a $20 billion fund to pay for claims related to the spill. “No one has yet to see the governing document that will explain how this $20 billion fund will work, and that’s a huge issue,” Buzbee says. “If there is a small restaurant in Atlanta that has bought Gulf coast products and sells them, should that restaurant be able to recover for lost profits? These things will be fought.”
Even in the wake of the spill, it is a virtual certainty that offshore drilling will continue, Buzbee says, adding: “If you look at the history of environmental law, crises again and again resulted in improvements in the written law and improvements in the law as actually implemented and enforced.”
The Gulf warrior
Both oil spill and clean-up pose health risks
Gulf oil mess fuels interest in green energy