Washington, DC— Nevada Senator Harry Reid released the following statement this morning after Republicans blocked a Democratic bill that would protect taxpayers from bailing out oil companies like BP when they are found responsible for oil spills like the one damaging the Gulf of Mexico:
“The fundamental principle behind the Wall Street bill we’ll finish this week is accountability. Those who created the mess bear the responsibility for cleaning it up. One of its most important provisions promises taxpayers they will never again be asked to bail out a big corporation that acted recklessly and put our economy at risk. When it comes to the ongoing catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico, our motivation is no different.
“As much as 20 million gallons of oil have leaked into and across the waters of the Gulf Coast since the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded and sank nearly a month ago. That’s double what spewed from the Exxon Valdez. Eleven crewmen immediately died horrific, unnecessary deaths. In the weeks since, an enormous tourism industry has been slowed and business at countless fisheries has been threatened at a time the Gulf Coast can hardly afford more economic hardship. Our environment has been polluted and life has been disrupted for many along the coast. With every passing day, those consequences only compound.
“It is the responsibility of Congress and the Administration to investigate this disaster. And it is the responsibility of BP – and anyone else found culpable – to foot the bill for their damages. They must be held accountable. Some estimate this disaster will cost more than $14 billion. We have to put our foot down and make clear that taxpayers will not pick up the tab. I will do everything in my power to make sure the polluters pay the price.
“That’s why we tried this morning to move to a bill to make sure BP pays for its negligence by raising the arbitrary and clearly insufficient liability cap on the companies responsible for disasters like this one. But Senate Republicans objected in an effort to protect their friends in Big Oil and corporate America. Every time Republicans help oil companies escape accountability for their own misconduct, they put taxpayers at risk.”