Senate Democrats

Reid and Senate Democrats, In Letter, Call On BP To Set Aside $20 Billion In Special Account To Ensure Payments To Gulf Coast Spill Victims

WASHINGTON –Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and members of the Senate Democratic Caucus sent a letter to BP CEO Tony Hayward today calling on the company to set aside $20 billion in a special account to be used to pay for economic damages and clean-up costs of the recent oil spill in the Gulf Coast.  In the letter, the Senators cite the lessons of history from past spills and the need to ensure financial security for those persons and industries whose way of life have been harmed.  The Senators requested a response to this letter no later than Friday, June 18 in light of the urgency of the matter.  Senate Democrats are committed to holding BP accountable for the April oil spill in the Gulf, ensuring that taxpayers do not bail out BP and preventing future spills.  A PDF of the letter is attached to this release.
 
Key Excerpts of the Letter:
 
“We are writing to express our profound concern over the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster and our deep regret for the severe consequences the continued outflow of oil into the Gulf of Mexico is having on our nation and the way of life for millions of Americans.  This tragedy has already taken the lives of 11 men, wounded 17 others, and caused billions of dollars in damages.”
 
“While we are pleased that BP has admitted liability for these damages and vowed to provide full remuneration for economic losses and clean-up costs, history has taught us that corporations often fail to live up to their initial promises.”
 
“Although legislative action is forthcoming, the damages are immediate.  In order to ensure BP fully and quickly covers the costs of this disaster, we are calling on BP to immediately establish a special account of $20 billion, administered by an independent trustee, to be used for payment of economic damages and clean-up costs.  Establishment of this account would serve as an act of good faith and as a first step towards ensuring that there will be no delay in payments or attempt to evade responsibility for damages.”

 
Full Text of the Letter:
 
June 14, 2010
 
Mr. Tony Hayward
Group Chief Executive, BP p.l.c
c/o BP America Inc.
4101 Winfield Road
Warrenville, IL 60555
 
Dear Mr. Hayward:
 
            We are writing to express our profound concern over the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster and our deep regret for the severe consequences the continued outflow of oil into the Gulf of Mexico is having on our nation and the way of life for millions of Americans.  This tragedy has already taken the lives of 11 men, injured 17 others, and caused billions of dollars in damages.  The oil slick resulting from the spill stretches across 2,500 square miles and has damaged miles of environmentally sensitive beaches and marshes stretching across four states. Although this disaster continues to unfold, it is already very clear we are facing a catastrophe of historic proportions that will take decades to fully rectify.
 
            The damages caused by your company are far reaching.  While much is already visible today, history informs us that the full extent of the destruction may not be discovered for months or even years.  For example, it is already evident that fishermen, shrimpers, the tourist industry, and the secondary industries that support them will sustain billions of dollars in losses.  It is also possible that marine and wildlife habitats will be destroyed, estuaries and wetlands will be decimated, and bird, fish, and animal populations will be devastated.
 
            While we are pleased that BP has admitted liability for such damages and vowed to provide full remuneration for economic losses and clean-up costs, history has taught us that corporations often fail to live up to their initial promises.  After the Exxon Valdez tanker spilled more than 11 million gallons of oil into Alaska’s Prince William Sound, damages totaled more than $7 billion; although Exxon continued making massive profits after the accident, it fought liability at every step and ultimately paid far less than the billions of dollars worth of damages it had caused many, many years later.
 
            Congress is currently gathering information and holding hearings in order to develop evidence-based legislative solutions to address the Deepwater Horizon disaster.  Although legislative action is forthcoming, the damages are immediate.  In order to ensure BP fully and quickly covers the costs of this disaster, we are calling on BP to immediately establish a special account of $20 billion, administered by an independent trustee, to be used for payment of economic damages and clean-up costs.  Establishment of this account would serve as an act of good faith and as a first step towards ensuring that there will be no delay in payments or attempt to evade responsibility for damages.  Although creating this account at this level in no way limits BP’s liability, we believe it will do more to improve BP’s public image than the costly public relations campaign your company has launched.
 
            We appreciate your interest in fully and quickly reimbursing those who have been injured by your actions.  We believe the establishment of the $20 billion account to compensate victims and provide for clean-up is a useful first step for demonstrating that BP intends to meet its commitments.  In light of the urgency of this matter we ask the courtesy of your response no later than June 18, 2010.
 
       Sincerely,
 

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