Bennet: Big Oil Should Have to Clean Up Mess, Not Taxpayers

Bennet Pushing to Ensure Big Oil Companies Are Held Responsible for Every Penny of Damage from Oil Spills

June 17, 2010

Washington, DC – While the Gulf Coast is dealing with the environmental and economic devastation from the ongoing oil spill, Michael Bennet, U.S. Senator for Colorado, joined an effort to ensure that big oil companies are forced to pay for all economic damages resulting from oil spills.  The Big Oil Bailout Prevention Unlimited Liability Act would eliminate the economic damage liability cap, which currently stands at a ridiculously low $75 million.  

While those responsible for an oil spill have to cover the entire cleanup costs, under current law, they are only responsible for up to $75 million of economic damages, such as lost business revenues from fishing and tourism, natural resources damages or lost local tax revenues.  This bill would ensure that they would be responsible for compensating all economic damages from an oil spill.

“The big oil companies and other responsible parties must be held responsible for all economic damages resulting from their oil spills,” Bennet said.  “The continued gush of oil into the Gulf  has shown that the possible economic damages from an oil spill can go far beyond what this archaic law contemplates.  An unlimited liability cap would ensure that everyone who loses business and revenue is fully compensated for any economic damages and taxpayers are not left to foot the bill.”

Bennet is fully committed to holding BP accountable for the mess it created in the Gulf.  He is exploring every option available to ensure those responsible foot the bill for this disaster, not taxpayers, including removal of the liability cap.  

The oil spill in the Gulf has already caused billions of dollars in damages, cost the lives of 11 men and left 17 others wounded.  The oil slick resulting from the spill stretches across 2,500 square miles and has damaged environmentally sensitive beaches, marshes, and wildlife stretching across four states.  Oil continues to pour into the Gulf, and the full extent of the economic and environmental damages are not yet known.  We need to ensure that the Gulf community and businesses are fully compensated, so they can recover from this tragic spill.

Earlier this week, Bennet joined a group of senators in calling on BP to immediately establish a $20 billion special account to cover the costs necessary to clean up the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and compensate Gulf Coast residents and businesses that have suffered economic damages.

Bennet has also called for a Justice Department investigation of the owner of the destroyed oil rig, Transocean Ltd., after reports that it intended to distribute $1 billion to private shareholders. He has cosponsored a bill to give subpoena power to a Presidential appointed commission investigating the spill and has said BP should cease a $50 million advertising campaign until it settles claims and lays out plans to pay for the cleanup efforts and the costs of the economic and environmental damage.

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