On Capitol Hill, efforts to increase the liability cap for oil companies involved in oil spills has failed. Under existing law, BP may be required to pay just $75 million in economic dangers related to the Gulf spill. Last week, a group of Democratic senators introduced the Big Oil Bailout Prevention Liability Act, which aimed to increase the liability cap from $75 million to $10 billion. On Thursday, Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska helped defeat the bill to lift the cap.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski: “It would be impossible, or perhaps close to impossible, for any energy company that is smaller than the super majors, smaller than the national oil companies, to operate in the OCS. $10 billion in strict liability would preclude their ability to obtain financing, to obtain the bonds or insurance for any exploration.”
Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey defended lifting the cap to $10 billion.
Sen. Robert Menendez: “First of all, when we call these 'independent drillers,' some of these independent drillers that are portrayed as small 'mom and pop,' you know, some of them are like $20 billion companies, so they’re not quite the 'mom and pop' view that we have of small 'mom and pop' businesses, number one. And if you drill, you need to be able to pay for the damages, because otherwise imagine if this particular spill had been done by a, quote-unquote 'small company.' Then who would be responsible? Just because they were too small?”