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LSCU's La Pine meets with Ken Feinberg, Oil Spill claims czar

LSCU President/CEO Patrick La Pine and Will McCarty, Sr. VP of Governmental Affairs recently met with Ken Feinberg, the Gulf Coast Claims Facility Administrator, who was named by President Obama as the independent manager of the $20 billion Gulf Coast Compensation fund. The fund was set up with money from BP Oil Company in response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

During their meeting La Pine proposed potential credit union involvement to provide assistance to those along the Gulf Coast affected financially by the oil spill. The following two major issues were discussed:

1. Cashing of checks paid to claimants

2. Utilizing the compensation fund to serve as a loan guarantor for small loans made by credit unions, especially to small businesses on the Gulf. Many of these businesses and their employees depend on summer revenue to survive through the off season. This year, summer revenues will not sustain these coastal residents through the next nine months because of the losses incurred from fishing restrictions and sharp decrease in tourism after the oil spill occurred.

Feinberg was engaged in the conversation and recognized the value of strong credit union response to the financial impact of the oil spill. Knowing that credit unions have the closest relationship to their members, he agreed that credit unions could offer help financially, but furthermore, can also serve as a great source of information for people on the Gulf who need to file claims. Although existing regulations and legal requirements of the fund are in place and won’t allow for the fund to guarantee loans by credit unions and banks, Feinberg did commit to speak to BP CEO Robert Dudley about this issue. He promised to convey the message to BP that it would be in their interest to work with credit unions to assist individuals affected by the spill, and that BP guaranteeing loans would be a wise investment on their part.

The LSCU will work to continue to build our partnership with the Gulf Coast Claims Facility, other involved parties, and state and federal regulators to meet the goal of assisting people and small businesses affected by the spill.

The Sept. 7 edition of eSignal will include a wrap up of a special workshop the LSCU organized to bring together credit unions and government officials to discuss ways that credit unions could be a resource to those hurting along the Gulf. The wrap-up of Credit Union Response to the Gulf Oil Spill forum will include a video that features interviews with credit unions and the regulators.

The LSCU has also put together a web page with the workshop materials, pertinent phone numbers, and resources to make it easier to help members. To access the resources available, visit the Gulf Oil Spill Resources page which is under the Cooperative Initiatives at the LSCU homepage.