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Florida wants $2.5 billion from BP in escrow

By Catherine Clifford, staff reporter

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The Attorney General of Florida sent a letter to BP asking that the company deposit no less than $2.5 billion into an escrow account to cover future claims to citizens and businesses that have been hit by the oil spill.

"Based on recent estimates from an economist, Florida could ultimately see losses as great as $2.2 billion, as well as a sharp decline in employment in the industries directly impacted by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill," wrote Attorney General McCollum in the letter to BP.

Since the April 20 explosion of the offshore drilling rig, oil has been leaking into the Gulf Coast, keeping fishermen at shore and tourists off beaches. Florida's lodging, restaurant, tourism and fishing industries have taken a serious blow, according to the letter from Florida.

Latest estimates are that oil is gushing into the Gulf of Mexico at a rate of between 20,000 and 40,000 barrels per day, the head of the U.S. Geological Survey said Thursday.

BP has said it will pay all "legitimate" claims for lost income and wages as a result of the oil spill. As of Thursday, the oil giant has cut more than 20,000 checks, totaling over $53 million, but with almost 42,000 claims submitted, that leaves more than half of the claims thus far unattended to.

"It is essential that BP establish immediately a dedicated escrow account solely for the purpose of paying claims and damages to Florida and its citizens," wrote Attorney General McCollum. And he wants BP to acknowledge that amount could grow in the future.

As Florida requests that BP set aside $2.5 billion, the oil giant announced that it would give the state an additional $25 million grant to for its State's Area Contingency Plan, according to a statement from BP released Thursday. That's the third $25 million grant the state has recieved this month.  To top of page

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