Official: Gulf oil spill won’t have lasting impact

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The long-term impact of the Gulf Coast disaster could be relatively minor and the Gulf of Mexico is likely to fully recover from the April oil spill, the government-appointed compensation chief said Monday.

Speaking to USA Today's editorial board, Ken Feinberg said his prediction is based on opinions the government has solicited from experts.

"We're asking everybody right now, scientists, biologists, give us your best estimate ... of the status of the Gulf," Feinberg said. "We're hearing right now, not much long-term adverse impact."

Kert Davies, director of research for the environmental group Greenpeace, says Feinberg's assessment is premature.

"We're talking about a very complex system and it's impossible to say there's minimal long-term impact at this point," Davies told the newspaper.

Feinberg also expressed confidence that the $20 billion fund that oil giant BP created should be more than enough to cover claims. And he says the government-run claims program will be more generous than any court.

The program has already paid $2.5 billion to 170,000 individuals and businesses, about a third of all claimants, Feinberg said.

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