Shaheen calls for increase in BP’s liability for economic damages to Gulf Coast from $75 million to $10 billion

May 25, 2010

 (Washington, D.C.)-U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen today pressed the Obama Administration to hold BP liable for the economic damages in the Gulf of Mexico, and raised concerns that the current cap on liability encourages risky behavior by oil companies during a Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources hearing. Shaheen also called on her Senate colleagues to support increasing the maximum amount of economic damages BP is required to pay from $75 million to $10 billion so that the long-term costs of the spill are not passed onto taxpayers.  

"While we don't know the full extent of the spill, we do know that BP is responsible for the economic and ecological damage caused to the Gulf region, and they must be held accountable," said Shaheen. "Taxpayers should not shoulder the cost of this disaster, and we must take the necessary steps to ensure that BP pays for its own negligence."

Under existing law, oil companies can be charged a maximum of $75 million for economic damages that result from a spill. However, early estimates of economic damages as a result of the BP oil spill already total more than $5 billion, leaving a significant gap that could unfairly be passed on to taxpayers. At today's Energy Committee hearing, Shaheen reiterated her support for legislation that would raise the cap to $10 billion, especially given BP's Fiscal Year 2009 profits of $16.6 billion. Shaheen's urging for greater BP accountability comes one day after she and 17 other Senators called on Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate reports that Transocean Ltd., the owner of the destroyed Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf, will distribute $1 billion in dividends to its shareholders this year.

"While oil executives and shareholders are raking in enormous profits and dividends, our nation's fishing and tourism industries, small businesses, and families along the Gulf Coast are suffering significant losses," said Shaheen. "We need to hold BP and Transocean accountable."

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