$20 Billion Man

BP Claims Chief Faces Uncharted Territory

Kenneth Feinberg, the Washington-based lawyer turned government-appointed BP-claims administrator, is a busy man: He’s toured communities from the Florida Panhandle to the Louisiana bayou; he’s met with business owners and fishermen and crabbers and boat captains; he’s told a majority of them, “You have a claim.” As funding dwindles, however, his generosity will have to as well. And when it does, Feinberg will bare the brunt of communities hit hard by the oil disaster, predicts the Wall Street Journal—communities that never got money from the $20 billion BP-funded escrow account he manages. For now, though, without any legislation or contracts to guide him—unlike, say, the 9/11 terrorist attacks—Feinberg will be forced to wrangle with complex questions: Which businesses will get the money? And how much of it? “In my business,” says Feinberg, “there is no such thing as happy or grateful. All I want to do is help people get compensation.” From the looks of it, Feinberg’s got a heavy task cut out for him.