BP has to clean up the oil in the Gulf of Mexico as quickly as possible. The damage to natural flora and fauna of the coast and the ocean is incalculable. The longer you wait to clean up oil, the harder it is to do because it separates into smaller clumps and bubbles and spreads out farther and farther.
Part of the urgency is the coming hurricane season. The hurricanes will suck up the oil and spray it all over the southeastern US, the islands, and Mexico. It will kill and poison everything for years to come, including the people, plants, animals, and the land itself.
Congressman Joe Barton is an oily ass. It took decades for Exxon to pay all of the claims of the people damaged by their oil spill, which was nowhere near the scale of this one. Many of the people hurt by it DIED before they could collect. When you're looking at people whose livelihoods have been taken away, such as multigenerational fishermen and farmers who don't know how to do anything else, they can't just wait around for their settlements while BP fights tooth and nail to pay as little as possible to as few people as possible.
BP is facing probable bankruptcy. What will happen to all of those people hurt by the oil spill if BP goes under? THEY WON'T GET A FRIGGIN DIME. The TAXPAYERS will have to help them out. The $20 billion fund isn't a slush fund or a shake down. It probably represents 20% or less of the $ BP will owe people. It's a start, and it allows us (yes, the government we created and elected), to handle some of the claims as quickly as possible so American families don't starve to death waiting for the courts to get their asses in gear. It's not a transfer of wealth. Their livelihoods, health, and the health of their environment was STOLEN from them by a massive international corporation and it's a start toward paying those people back. BP can never fully restore what has been taken from them. The least it can do is help them out a little as they find other ways to get by.