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Eye On Boise

Posts tagged: bp oil spill

New Orleans judge gets BP lawsuits

A federal judge in New Orleans will handle more than 300 lawsuits filed over the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, a federal court panel ruled today - a move sought by many of those suing, but opposed by BP, which favored hearing the cases in Houston, where its U.S. operations are based. The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation met in Boise in late July - it just happened to be here, it moves around - to hear arguments on where to send the suits. Click below for a full report from the Associated Press.

Disputes over Gulf oil spill wash all the way to Boise’s federal court

Dozens of lawyers from across the country gathered at Idaho’s federal courthouse in Boise this morning to argue about the handling of more than 300 lawsuits filed against BP and other companies over a huge natural disaster thousands of miles away, the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. A small group of protesters met the lawyers outside the courthouse, holding signs with slogans like “BP lies, the Gulf dies” and, above a smiling drawing of the earth, “Before BP.” Inside, a federal judicial panel wrestled with questions of bias and geography in debating where to consolidate the many cases; click below to read a full report from AP reporter Curt Anderson.

Protesters also headed to Boise…

Personal injury lawyers aren’t the only ones flocking to Boise for this Thursday’s Multidistrict Litigation Panel hearing on the BP oil spill. A group calling itself “” has secured permits for a protest outside the U.S. District Courthouse in Boise on Thursday, where its members plan to stage a “March On Boise,” or MOB, with the slogan, “Mad about BP? Join us! Let’s March On Boise.” The group, which says it advocates “peaceful protests for positive change,” is planning to meet at 7 a.m. in the northwest corner of Ann Morrison Park, march to the federal courthouse starting at 8 a.m., and protest in front of the James A. McClure Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse at 9 a.m. There’s more info here; the group says its concern is that “the victims of the Gulf Oil Disaster deserve to be heard by a judge with no ties to Big Oil.”

The multidistrict panel’s hearing on Thursday will focus, among other items, on which judge should hear hundreds of lawsuits against BP over the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

‘Everyone who’s anyone’ headed to Boise?

The Wall Street Journal’s Law Blog reports that “everyone who’s anyone in the world of personal injury and product liability lawyering is making their way to Boise,” for this Thursday’s Multidistrict Litigation Panel hearing on litigation over the BP oil spill. “Why Boise, you may be asking?” the WSJ asks. “The mountain town more than 2,000 miles away from the oily Gulf shores just happened to be next up on the roving panel’s calendar of randomly selected venues for its regular hearings. What the town lacks in accommodations (‘It doesn’t even have a five-star hotel,’ one Gulf attorney complained) it makes up for in seafood; its oysters come from oil-free Washington State.”

Click here to read the post, and here for the WSJ’s story about the big questions to be decided at the Boise hearing: Where the litigation over the catastrophic spill should take place, and what judge should preside. The hearing is this Thursday in federal district court in Boise; at issue is the consolidation of more than 200 federal civil lawsuits over the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Kempthorne to Congress: Big spill never expected, pressure was for more drilling

Former Idaho Gov. Dirk Kempthorne, former Secretary of the Interior under President George W. Bush, told a congressional committee today he never anticipated an oil spill as large as the BP spill in the Gulf of Mexico, but no one else did either, the AP reports. In fact, Kempthorne said when he testified to congressional committees as interior secretary, he was pointedly asked why Interior wasn’t doing more to expand offshore drilling, not less - questions that came at a time of $4-per-gallon gas prices. Click below to read a full report from the Associated Press on testimony this morning from Kempthorne and his predecessor, Gale Norton; current Secretary Ken Salazar also was scheduled to testify today. You can read Kempthorne’s full testimony here.

Among Kempthorne’s comments: “Until now, I have declined multiple media requests to comment in the belief America was best served by letting those now in charge to stay focused on job No. 1, of stopping the oil spill.” He said he agreed to testify “out of respect for Congress where I served for six years.” Kempthorne told the lawmakers, “I do not envy my successor. … It is easy to second-guess and criticize.” He noted that while he was secretary, royalty rates for deepwater offshore leases were increased twice. But, he said, “There had not been a major oil spill in 40 years.” All planning for future drilling, he said, will be forever changed by the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. “Never again will decision makers not include planning for events that might be low-probability events, but which, in the unlikely event they occurred, would be catastrophic.”

Kempthorne also addressed the scandal at the Minerals Management Service. “On Sept. 18, 2008, I unequivocally told congress that the conduct disgusted me and there would be prompt personnel action. Because that action was under way, I was advised by Interior’s lawyers that I could not discuss it in detail. Now I can, including the fact that we fired people.” He said, “Those involved were fired, retired, demoted or disciplined to the maximum extent permissible. The facts are that all of these actions were taken before we left office.”

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Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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