WASHINGTON - Today Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) joined the majority of his Senate colleagues on the Environment and Public Works committee in approving S.3305, the Big Oil Bailout Prevention Liability Act of 2010. The reported bill amends the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 by removing the liability cap on responsible parties for any economic damages that may occur from offshore drilling accidents. The current liability cap for economic damages is $75 million. The bill requires that responsible parties are liable for all economic damages resulting from any offshore drilling oil spill. Parties are already responsible for all clean-up costs associated with a spill. The reported bill now goes to the Senate floor for consideration.
"Today's vote is an important step in helping Congress ensure that the parties responsible for any offshore oil and gas spills are held fully accountable for their actions," said Sen. Carper. "The spill in the Gulf has shown that the current $75 million cap on economic damages is too low for what could happen from an offshore drilling accident - especially when drilling in deepwater. Unfortunately, we do not know how much this disaster will eventually cost, but Congress and the President will work together to make sure that those responsible will pay the damages in full. Living in a coastal state, I know our nation's coasts are economic and environmental treasures that we cannot take for granted. Those who drill for oil and gas off our coasts have a responsibility to do so safely, and if they don't, Congress has a responsibility to see that our laws appropriately assign liability where it is due."
Earlier this month, Sen. Carper, as Chairman of the Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, held a hearing to assess how much money the federal government has spent in responding to the oil spill, and how these expenses will be recouped. Members of the subcommittee questioned witnesses, from BP, Transocean, the U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Government Accountability Office, on potential vulnerabilities of the current claims processes and the future viability of the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund. Sen. Carper continues to monitor the federal government's financial response to the spill and plans to hold another hearing on the topic next month.