Washington, DC—Senators Robert Menendez, Bill Nelson and Frank Lautenberg held a press conference this afternoon to discuss the need to hold oil polluters like BP fully accountable for the cost of the spills they cause. Last week the Senators introduced The Big Oil Bailout Prevention Act, a bill that would raise the liability caps for oil companies from $75 million to $10 billion to help ensure that they pay the full costs of economic and environmental disasters caused by their negligence. Unfortunately, Republicans blocked passage of this bill today – supporting the interests of BP over that of taxpayers and industries affected by the recent oil spill. Democrats are committed to ensuring companies like BP pay every dime it costs to clean up their mess so taxpayers across America do not foot the bill for their mistakes.
"This vote was as straightforward and common sense as it gets — either you want to fully protect the small businesses and communities devastated by a man-made disaster, or you want to protect multi-billion dollar oil companies from being held fully accountable,” said Senator Menendez. “Does anyone who has been watching the images coming in from the Gulf believe that we should be protecting multi-billion dollar oil companies instead of the small businesses, fisheries and coastal residents who are losing their livelihoods? Apparently, there are some in the Senate who prefer to protect the oil companies."
“I’m really disappointed some of my colleagues decided to block legislation to hold BP accountable for this disaster,” said Senator Nelson. “We still don’t know how bad it will be. But it’s certainly going to exceed the current $75-million cap on liability for drilling accidents. I’m not even sure $10 billion would be enough. But let’s remember BP just reported a profit of $5.5 billion in just the last three months.”
“What we just saw on the Senate floor has to startle the American people: Republicans stood against ordinary Americans and with Big Oil,” said Senator Lautenberg. “Even children understand a basic rule: if you break it, you pay for it. But clearly there are some in the Senate who don’t think the rules of fairness should apply to Big Oil. We have to hold the oil companies like BP accountable when they make a catastrophic mistake.”