Photo by Roy L. Williams
Mayor Gary Ivey hears concerns at a recent council meeting.
The Hoover City Council, in a 4-0 vote during its Monday, July 6 meeting, authorized Mayor Gary Ivey and the city attorney to begin negotiating a settlement with BP over damage claims related to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
The vote came after council members met behind closed doors for about 15 minutes with the mayor and city attorney Charlie Waldrep, who said the executive session met the legal requirements dealing with confidential talks.
After the executive session, Hoover City Council president pro tem Brian Skelton said “based on confidentiality, there are still issues related to this we cannot discuss publicly.” He said the mayor and city attorney will work out those issues and report to the public later.
Prior to the vote, Ivey asked the council to amend the motion allowing him to negotiate a settlement to add a stipulation that any money gained from a potential settlement with BP be set aside for Hoover City Schools. It was approved unanimously by the four council members present: Skelton, Jack Natter, Joe Rives and John Greene. Council President Jack Wright and councilman John Lyda were absent.
The Hoover council’s authorization comes just days after a landmark $18.7 billion settlement the oil giant announced it had reached last week with Alabama and four other states along the Gulf Coast.
After the meeting, the mayor said he doesn’t know how long the negotiations with BP will last.
“I don’t think anybody ever knows once lawyers get in a room,” Ivey said.
Ivey said it was a good use of the public’s money to designate any settlements reached with BP go to Hoover City Schools.
“I think giving it to schools will be a good use for the money,” the mayor said. “We continue to try to help the school system as much as we can.”
Skelton said he and other city council members loved Ivey’s idea to give all settlement money the city receives from BP to Hoover city schools.
“I think it was a very genuine idea,” Skelton said. “With his leadership, we will get this done.”
The BP settlement, which still requires approval of U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier, includes a civil penalty for violating the Clean Water Act of $5.5 billion and additional payments of $7.1 billion to the United States government and five Gulf states for damages to natural resources.
Alabama’s portion of the settlement, payable over 15 years, is $2.3 billion. BP will also pay another $4.9 billion to settle economic claims made by Alabama and four other Gulf states with coastline affected by the oil spill.
It is unclear if the City of Hoover is among more than 400 local government entities that will be paid a combined $1 billion BP is setting aside to resolve claims. Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley has said Alabama’s $1 billion economic settlement will be paid in installments averaging $55.5 million per year over 18 years.
"With this agreement we provide a path to closure for BP and the Gulf," BP chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg has said in a news release on July 1. "It resolves the company's largest remaining legal exposures, provides clarity on costs and creates certainty of payment for all parties involved."