Senate Democrats

Whose Side Are They On: Republican Inaction Protects Big Oil at the Expense of the American Taxpayer

Senate Republicans are once again putting special interests ahead of the American people by protecting Big Oil polluters.  Attempts to block the Big Oil Bailout Prevention Liability Act send a clear message: Senate Republicans are on the side of Big Oil companies. 

As the oil spill continues, the Gulf Coast’s fishermen, tourist industries, and small businesses are incurring millions of dollars worth of damage every day.  Cleanup costs have already reached $450 million and will continue to climb.  Unfortunately, the total economic impact will dwarf the initial cleanup cost – Louisiana’s fishing industry could lose over $2 billion and the Florida tourism industry another $3 billion. 

Despite the billion-dollar costs associated with the spill, Big Oil companies enjoy the protection of a $75 million dollar cap on liability.  Unless the cap is increased, these companies, earning profits in excess of $24 billion in the first quarter of 2010, will only have to pay for a fraction of the overall economic impact of this preventable disaster.  That is why Senate Democrats have brought forward legislation that would ensure Big Oil companies pay for their own mistakes by raising the liability cap for offshore oil well spills from $75 million to $10 billion.

Blindly trusting Big Oil to take full responsibility, Senate Republicans have blocked this legislation and left hard-working American families at risk of paying for the economic damage caused by oil spills.  Have Republicans forgotten about Big Oil’s miserable track record in similar disasters? 

ExxonMobil used antiquated maritime law to stall and eventually reduce the damages (from $5 billion to $500 million) paid to Alaska’s fishermen, Native Alaskans, and landowners from the 53 million gallon Valdez oil spill.  Not surprisingly, history is repeating itself.  BP’s partner, Transocean, is trying to use obscure maritime laws from the 1850s to abdicate liability for the spill.

Senate Republicans should stop trusting Big Oil and allow this important legislation to pass.