Viewpoint - How to Deal With BP

The controversy on the state's role in handling the claims against BP is building faster than a category five hurricane.

Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal ran a scathing editorial aimed at Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood and his zeal for attempting to have the matter handled in state courts. Also yesterday, a letter from Governor Haley Barbour was hand delivered to Hood advising him to stop his efforts in that direction.

Both the governor and the opinion writer in the journal seem to think if the matter is taken out of federal court, and state plaintiff attorneys and local juries enter the picture, all claim payments from BP will stop immediately.

Already, Mississippi has received more than $65 million in grants from BP and nearly 8,500 claims have been paid to the tune of almost $22 million. Barbour states his concern that the kind of money we have seen flow from BP to both the state and individuals since the spill began will be cut off pending the kind of lawsuit we saw in the state's battle with the tobacco companies. There is also concern that driving this issue is the desire to spread the wealth among a bunch of attorneys of the AG's choosing.

While the governor concedes that—given the magnitude of the issues—there will no doubt be a need for lawsuits to finally settle all the claims—now is not the time to make that move.

We think it is something to consider. We want what is best for the people of Mississippi, especially those whose livelihoods are at stake due to this catastrophe.

BP has a moral and legal obligation to make things right. They have admitted their culpability and intent to pay. We just hope the state government will act wisely and judiciously in the very best interest of the folks they exist to look after.

I'm Jim Cameron and that's today's viewpoint. Let us hear from you.

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