Kenneth Feinberg on 'Fox News Sunday'

The following is a rush transcript of the July 4, 2010, edition of "Fox News Sunday With Chris Wallace." This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

MAJOR GARRETT, GUEST HOST: With us now to discuss what's being done to get money to the people of the gulf impacted by the spill is Kenneth Feinberg, administrator of what's known as the Gulf Coast Claims Facility.

Mr. Feinberg, thank you so much for joining us on "Fox News Sunday."


GARRETT: You know, I asked my twitter followers and those on our White House blog to submit questions for you, and I got this question over and over: From what power or authority, sir, do you derive the power to pay claims? Who do you work for? And how can you be viewed by the American public as truly independent when you were hired by President Obama and are being paid by B.P.?

FEINBERG: I work for the people of the gulf region. That's who I work for. I am totally independent. It is a private agreement entered into between the administration and B.P. to find somebody who can design, implement and administer a totally independent facility.

I answer to neither B.P. nor the administration. And I just want to get the job done for the good of the people in the gulf.

GARRETT: Very good. You testified Wednesday before the House Small Business Committee, and there were several issues that could not be resolved in that committee testimony. I'd like to see if we can get some resolution to them today.

One of the questions you were asked was B.P. has already paid out some more than $130 million in claims. Does that count on the $20 billion? Here's what you said Wednesday before the House committee. Let's look.


FEINBERG: I think the $130 million that has been paid out so far is not part of the $20 billion. That has been paid by B.P. separately, independent of the escrow account. I think that's right. I think that's right.


GARRETT: Do we know for sure?


GARRETT: Can we resolve that? What's the situation? What's the $20 billion? What's been paid out so far? Do they co-mix?

FEINBERG: About $130 million has been paid out. It is not part of the $20 billion escrow fund that is being set up as we speak that will be used to pay claims. And that...

GARRETT: So that fund has not been paid down in any way?

FEINBERG: That is correct.

GARRETT: That's for you. OK. Next question. You were asked something that's very much on the minds of businesses along the gulf that don't have tar balls, that don't have any actual oil damage near them, but their businesses are quite clearly being affected. This would be some restaurants, condo associations, lots of folks. You were asked about this. Here's part of what you said Wednesday.


FEINBERG: I want to emphasize that I have made no decision yet on whether or not that the local law should govern in every case. There are examples of inequity and injustice where the local law may not be the best barometer.


GARRETT: Picking up on that, your answer was basically what you're going to be following is state law on these matters. But of course, state law in many respects, if not all respects, never anticipated an ecological and economic catastrophe of this nature.

For those who don't have oil near them, can they be compensated?


GARRETT: Will they be compensated?

FEINBERG: Sure they can be compensated. First of all, it's not just state law. It's also maritime law, the Pollution Control Act Law. It's also my discretion in terms of equity and need.

So one should not focus only, nor did I attempt to even suggest that one focus only, on a particular state law. That's first.

Secondly, you have to look at each and every case. There may not be oil on the beach. Do you — are you losing business this year because you can't take charter fishermen out to fish, you can't take a charter boat for sightseeing, you can't go into the marshes of Louisiana?

Oil — physical presence of oil should not and will not be the only requirement. There are going to have to be some tough decisions made as to who is eligible and who is not eligible. And as I said last week, I will look at the claims. I'll look at the underlying facts of those claims. I'm working for the people in the gulf. I want to try and maximize as much compensation as I can do fairly and consistently to the people I'm trying to serve down there.

GARRETT: One other thing I'd like to clear up once and for all if possible. B.P. also, as a good faith gesture, set aside $100 million for idle deepwater rig workers as a result of the government- imposed six-month deepwater drilling moratorium. You were asked if you were going to administer that fund. Here's your response on Capitol Hill.


FEINBERG: Whether I'll process those claims or some charity or foundation will process those claims I don't think has been finalized, but hopefully that will be finalized in the next day or two.


GARRETT: Mr. Feinberg, it's been a couple of days. Do we have an answer?

FEINBERG: We don't have a final answer yet. I can say this. One, the $100 million moratorium payments are not part of the $20 billion. They are over and above the $20 billion.

Secondly, those payments will be limited to one time. The $100 million — unlike the $20 billion, the $100 million is a fixed amount which will not be supplemented. It is all there is for this particular type of rig worker claim.

And thirdly, it will be limited to the rig workers who actually performed employed on the rigs, subject to the moratorium. It is not also to be used for businesses or other subcontractors. It is an employee-based limited fund.

Whether I'll administer it, whether a charity or a foundation will administer it, whether another third party — as of today, as of this moment, I don't believe that has been finalized between B.P. and the administration.

GARRETT: They have to work that out between themselves.

FEINBERG: As to who will administer it.

GARRETT: Which brings me to another point. I've asked the White House several times — unlike the 9/11 fund which you administered, that was congressionally chartered. This is not. This is an agreement between the sitting White House and a multinational corporation.

Shouldn't the American public see this written document, the legal confines and the outlines of everything that's been agreed to, so they can evaluate and they know with certainty under what rules this is all going to be conducted? I've asked the White House for that. They've committed publicly to providing that document. Will you here, sir, today say that should happen and it should happen sooner than later?

FEINBERG: First, I don't even know if there is such a document.

GARRETT: Should there be?

FEINBERG: I assume there will be. I don't know if it's prepared yet. That is not on my watch. I am administering a fund which will source that $20 billion for payment.

What that document will say, how it will read, whether it will be made available to the public, whatever the transparency of that escrow account, I have enough problems without trying to...

GARRETT: Would it make your job easier to have that out there?

FEINBERG: No. No. I don't think it would make my job easier. My job is to serve the people in Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, Louisiana, Texas, to try and maximize the dollars that I can get to those citizens in those jurisdictions.

That escrow money, I'm assured by both the administration and B.P., will be there. I do not want to interfere with what is private discussions, at least under way between the administration and B.P. I am an independent third party, beholden to neither. And I want to move forward with what I'm supposed to be doing, processing those claims in the Gulf.

GARRETT: I've got less than 15 seconds left. How soon will you be taking this job on day-to-day personally and transitioning out of what you are as a pay master for the TARP fund?

FEINBERG: I've taken on this job. I've been down in the gulf numerous times. You cannot do this job from Washington. I've been in all of those states down there. And I hope to transition from the B.P. program within a matter of weeks, not months.

GARRETT: Very good. Mr. Feinberg, Kenneth Feinberg, thank you so much for joining us.

FEINBERG: Thank you.

GARRETT: And thank you for that update and thank you for spending part of your 4th of July with us. A very happy 4th of July to you, sir.

FEINBERG: Thank you.

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