Around 800 hotel owners have plans to descend on BP's headquarters along I-10 West today, condemning a recent proposed settlement between the embattled monolith and thousands of business owners because, apparently, they weren't invited to the get-lots-of-money-from-papa-BP party.
A U.S. district judge in New Orleans will either confirm or deny the settlement in November, which should hand out nearly $8 billion, BP has said. But Florida lawyer Amar Patel said there's no cap on how much money BP could pony up, and the real amount could be much more than that.
Which is exactly how the protesters want it. They say the settlement has unfairly excluded them because their businesses weren't along the Gulf shore. The said businesses further inland were all but forgotten.
Patel said more than 90 percent of Texas wasn't involved in the litigation, even though much of the state lost revenues because of the spill. The number of tourists traveling to the coast during 2010 plummeted, which cut how many people stayed at the hotels.
"They don't call it the Louisiana-Alabama disaster," said Patel, who traveled from Florida to Houston to support the protesters. "They call it the Gulf Coast disaster -- tourists haven't differentiated between the two."
He said Harris County has been almost completely abandoned in both the suit and the settlement, even though its eastern point is only 12 miles from the coast. Meanwhile, he said, some wetlands 200 miles north of the ocean in Louisiana were folded into the settlement and may get money for their damages.
La Quinta owner Bobby Patel bought his hotel in April of 2010 a few dozen miles away from the coast in Channelview -- just weeks before Deepwater exploded, spewing nearly 5 million barrels of oil into the Gulf and consuming the national dialogue for the summer. Over the next year, he said, he estimates he lost $400,000 in revenue and had to lay off most of his staff. His La Quinta has since rebounded, but he's still indignant. Most of the owners protesting today are Indian-American like Bobby Patel, and are members of the Asian American Hotel Owners Association.
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"I was in a position to lose my hotel," he said. "I'm still angry -- 100 percent. You can hear it in my voice."
Any settlement money paid out will come from the $20 billion set aside in the summer of 2010 after President Barack Obama asked BP to pay for the damages to the spill's victims.