In Letter to CEO, Bennet Calls on BP to Immediately Establish $20 Billion Special Account to Pay for Economic Damages, Clean-up Costs
Washington, DC – Michael Bennet, U.S. Senator for Colorado, today 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 who have suffered economic damages.
In a letter to Tony Hayward, CEO of BP America Inc., the senators called for BP to establish this account, which will be administered by an independent trustee, to ensure BP follows through on its promise to pay for economic losses and clean-up costs.
“While…BP has admitted liability for these damages and vowed to provide full remuneration for economic losses and clean-up costs, history has taught us that corporations often fail to live up to their initial promises,” the senators wrote in the letter. “Establishment of this account would serve as an act of good faith and as a first step toward ensuring that there will be no delay in payments or attempt to evade responsibility for damages.”
The spill 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.
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 that 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.
The full text of the letter follows:
Dear Mr. Hayward:
We are writing to express our profound concern over the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster and our deep regret for the severe consequences the continued outflow of oil into the Gulf of Mexico is having on our nation and the way of life for millions of Americans. This tragedy has already taken the lives of 11 men, wounded 17 others, and caused millions of dollars in damages. The oil slick resulting from the spill stretches across 2,500 square miles and has damaged miles of environmentally sensitive beaches and marshes stretching across four states. Although this disaster continues to unfold, it is already very clear we are facing a catastrophe of historic proportions that will take decades to fully rectify.
The damages caused by your company are far reaching. While much is already visible today, history proves the full extent of the destruction will not be discovered for months or even years. For example, it is already evident that fisherman, shrimpers, the tourist industry, and the secondary industries that support them will sustain billions of dollars in losses. We can also expect that marine and wildlife habitats will be destroyed, estuaries and wetlands will be decimated, and bird, fish, and animal populations will be devastated.
While we are pleased that BP has admitted liability for these damages and vowed to provide full remuneration for economic losses and clean-up costs, history has taught us that corporations often fail to live up to their initial promises. After the Exxon Valdez tanker spilled more than 11 million gallons of oil into Alaska’s Prince William Sound, damages totaled more than $7 billion; although Exxon continued making massive profits after the accident, it fought liability at every step and ultimately paid far less than the billions of dollars worth of damages it had caused many, many years later.
Congress is currently gathering information and holding hearings in order to develop evidence-based legislative solutions to address the Deepwater Horizon disaster. Although legislative action is forthcoming, the damages are immediate. In order to ensure BP fully and quickly covers the costs of this disaster, we are calling on BP to immediately establish a special account of $20 billion, administered by an independent trustee, to be used for payment of economic damages and clean-up costs. Establishment of this account would serve as an act of good faith and as a first step toward ensuring that there will be no delay in payments or attempt to evade responsibility for damages. Although creating this account at this level in no way limits BP’s liability, we believe it will do more to improve BP’s public image than the costly public relations campaign your company has launched.
We appreciate your interest in fully and quickly reimbursing those who have been injured by your actions. We believe the establishment of the $20 billion account to compensate victims and provide for clean-up is a useful first step for demonstrating that BP intends to meet its commitments. In light of the urgency of this matter we ask the courtesy of your response no later than June 21, 2010.