Legislation Proposed on Oil Spill Caps

On the third anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster, Senator Bill Nelson announced that he is co-sponsoring legislation that would lift the liability from $75 million for removal costs for an offshore oil spill. The 1990 Oil Pollution Act limits the ability to collect damages in excess of $75 million, unless there is gross negligence or willful misconduct. This could limit BP’s liability for economic damages incurred by the Gulf disaster. BP has said it will waive the cap on damages and pay all legitimate claims as a result of the Gulf spill.

Some lawmakers in Washington feel the proposal would give the largest energy companies a virtual monopoly by making oil drilling in places like the Gulf of Mexico prohibitively expensive. Others believe Congress should adopt for oil companies the liability standard used by the nuclear industry, under which every company is held responsible for any accident.

Senator Nelson is also concerned about better research on the effects of the spill, “We still don’t know what else is out there and haven’t determined how long it will have an effect on the Gulf.”

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