Obama pledges to be fierce claims advocate

June 15, 2010 at 1:03 PM
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PENSACOLA, Fla., June 15 (UPI) -- President Obama said he will be a "fierce advocate" for local business owners to ensure BP compensates them for losses traced to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Speaking in Pensacola, Fla., Tuesday, Obama said, "(We're) hearing here is the same thing we heard yesterday (in Alabama and Mississippi), which is businesses need help right now."

Noting he would be speaking from the Oval Office Tuesday night, Obama said, "I'm going to be addressing … the issue of how we can make sure that claims to businesses that have been affected are responded to quickly and fairly."

The claims process also will be discussed during a meeting Wednesday with BP officials, Obama said, pledging to relay stories he's heard about the process from people who have filed claims, including Mike Pinzone, owner of The Original Fish Sandwich Snackbar on Pensacola beach, where Obama visited and spoke.

"Mike has put in all the paperwork," Obama said, "In fact, he has documented more than amply the fact that his business has been deeply affected by this crisis, but he hasn't received the compensation that he needs to make sure that his business stays open."

The president said he wants business owners to know "I will be their fierce advocate in making sure that they are getting the compensation they need to get through what is going to be a difficult season. "

Obama also announced U.S. Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, national incident commander, has assigned deputy incident commanders for Florida, Mississippi and Alabama.

"All this is designed to make sure that on the federal response we are able to work and make decisions at a local level in response to the suggestions of people who know the communities best and know the waters best," Obama said.

Obama said he has assured business owners and government officials "we're not going to go away."

"We're just going to keep on at this until we are able to not only get back to normal, but maybe even get better than it was before this crisis," Obama said.

Oil has been leaking into the gulf since April 20, when a Transocean rig leased by BP exploded, killing 11 workers, then sank two days later.

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