Earlier on Tuesday, BP said that fourth-quarter profit fell one-fifth from a year ago.
An inability to settle state claims would be a complication for BP as it tries to avoid a related civil trial due to start on February 25, with separate talks also under way with the federal government on a Clean Water Act liability ranging from $5 billion to $21 billion.
BP's top in-house lawyer, Rupert Bondy, said the company had already provided a $42.2 billion assessment for all claims, and a total of $37 billion has already been committed through separate settlements. Bondy emphasized that BP would litigate the $34 billion in state and local claims.
Louisiana and Alabama have been prominent in their public demands for BP to pay its debt to the Gulf Coast.
Garret Graves, senior coastal adviser to Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, called the $34 billion number "extraordinary," especially because it does not include state claims under the Clean Water Act or the Natural Resource Damage Assessment process of the OPA.
"Perhaps this helps BP to realize the size and scope of the problems they have caused the citizens of the Gulf," Graves said, though he cited "bright spots" such as tourism and seafood safety agreements BP struck with the states, and BP's "early restoration" agreement for the coast.
"They have continued to try to downplay the significance the oil spill has had on us," he added. "BP hasn't done itself any favors in gaining goodwill with anyone in the Gulf. With a few exceptions early on, they have been incredibly difficult to deal with and their credibility is subsurface."
Haven't they done enough? This is ridiculous. I hope cool heads prevail and we can put a stop to this feeding frenzy.
Haven't we learned anything from the asbestos fiasco where millions in investors money, pensions and jobs were lost to the rapacious lawyers?
That was rough justice if you ask me. Sure, let's give it to the lawyers so they can dole out a few crumbs to the very people and economy they impoverished.
Where have you been lurking, Stake? I was beginning to wonder if BP's thugs got to you. Good to see you're still able to make it the local library and get on the internet. Knowing where you stand on BP from all your great posts of the past, I suppose the best solution would be for them to shut down and close the shutters on all their operations in the gulf states including wells, pipelines, refineries, chemical plants, transporters, gas stations and business centers. The impact on regional business and the local gas shortages won't be so bad, right? Good ridance! I'm sure the feds and states would step right up to fill the gaps, yes? No need for $7 a gallon gas prices. Fire the 20-30 thousand employees working in these places and quit all the advertising and beach cleaning. Fire all the support contractors who work on BP assets as well - all these people will find other jobs, right? BP should just pay their fines and let the states use the money to handle their own community assistance programs, shoreline clean-up and self-promotion. That kind of money won't be diverted and squandered by corrupt fed and local govs, right? BP could then litigate all claims to the fullest and drag it out for twenty years like Exxon did. Sounds good, right? Be careful what you wish for.