University of Florida Law oil spill symposium
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Legal responses to the disaster caused by the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill this summer are wide-ranging and varied, according to law professors from the University of Florida Levin College of Law who have been studying laws and policies that can determine liability for such environmental disasters.
A symposium outlining the legal basis for responding to the oil spill will be held Thursday, Sept. 16 at 4 p.m. in the Martin H. Levin Legal Advocacy Center at UF’s Levin College of Law. The public is invited.
The symposium will examine:
- Florida laws governing oil spills, including a comparison of laws in other states affected by the spill, which are Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Texas;
- Federal and admiralty laws relating to oil spills and recovery, including the Oil Pollution Act, which is the central authority on oil spills at the federal level;
- Types of recovery that can include natural resource restoration, economic compensation for individuals, communities, and businesses, and punitive damages or fines;
- The claims process established initially by BP and now administered by Kenneth Feinberg through the Gulf Coast Claims Facility;
- Responses from commissions established by the State of Florida and by President Obama; and
- Legislative actions that could assist oil spill victims.
“We are in the initial stages of developing a legal framework for examining the law and policy issues that will be discussed throughout the region in the coming months and even years,” said Jon Mills, who chairs UF law’s Oil Spill Working Group and also serves on the university-wide Oil Spill Task Force. Mills, who is coordinating the law school group through the Center for Governmental Responsibility, said the legal researchers are working with natural scientists and social scientists who are serving on the UF task force. “Some of the challenges are short-term but many are long-term,” Mills said. “Damage assessments are in their preliminary stages.”
The UF law symposium will include UF faculty members Alyson Flournoy, UF Research Foundation Professor of Law & Director, UF Law Environmental and Land Use Law Program; Mary Jane Angelo, Professor of Law; Tim McLendon, Staff Attorney, Center for Governmental Responsibility; Richard Hamann, Associate in Law, Center for Governmental Responsibility; Joan Flocks, Director, Social Policy Division, Center for Governmental Responsibility; Brian Mayer, Assistant Professor of Sociology, & Member, University of Florida Oil Spill Task Force; and six UF law research assistants, Alyssa Cameron, James Davies, Carli Koshal, Austin Moretz, Fay Pappas, and Jessie Reiblich.
The symposium is sponsored by the UF Law Oil Spill Working Group, Center for Governmental Responsibility, and UF Law Environmental and Land Use Law Program.