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Jan 04, 2007
Gov. Blanco's testimony in Murphy Oil lawsuit settlement hearing

Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco
Murphy Oil Settlement Statement
January 4, 2007

Your Honor, on behalf of the citizens of Louisiana, it is a privilege to address the Court.  Today's Murphy Oil settlement marks a significant victory for the people of St. Bernard Parish.  It brings urgent relief to an estimated 6,000 households.  And it does so without the extended delays that a trial and appeals would require.

The results make clear that your negotiations put the interests of our people first.  Judge Fallon, please accept the State's commendation for your fair handling of the Murphy Oil Settlement.  
Thank you for expediting this work.  Murphy Oil, thank you for your cooperation in reaching an agreement that includes environmental clean-up and settlements to assist impacted families. 

Three days after Hurricane Katrina, St. Bernard was hit again by an oil spill.  Today's court actions give affected homeowners the additional leg up they need to recover from these two disasters. 

As Governor, I led a ten-month fight for the federal funding needed to run Louisiana's Road Home Program.  Our program compensates people for damages resulting from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. 
I have been working with HUD to ensure that homeowners affected by the Murphy Oil Spill recognize the full benefits of BOTH the settlement AND the Road Home money. 
The moment Judge Fallon approves the settlement, 891 options letters will be sent to affected homeowners in this case.  At my request, HUD has approved the inclusion of an official notice guaranteeing full benefits to Road Home applicants in the Murphy Oil area. 

The notice states that the "U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has determined that homeowners who receive settlement funds for damages caused by the oil spill may also receive Road Home grants.
The money received by the homeowner in the settlement will not reduce the Road Home grant as a duplication of benefit. 

HUD's determination does not include grants for homeowners who choose to sell their property to Murphy Oil under the limited "buy-out"  option of the class action settlement.  Homeowners who are located in the Murphy designated buyout area will receive separate notice about their eligibility based on Murphy's offer of a buyout."

I believe it is in line with this Court's actions that we do not count the settlement proceeds against families who are seeking Road Home awards to rebuild. 
The State will work closely with homeowners to ensure that they receive the greatest amount of funding possible to get back into their homes.  I know when it comes to recovery every dollar counts!   

In closing, I'd like to again thank all parties for the progress you've accomplished.  And I'd like to congratulate the people of St. Bernard for reaching a settlement that moves us forward in our recovery.  Thank you.