U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) announced his support for new legislation today that would ensure that Big Oil polluters, not taxpayers or small businesses, pay for oil spills. Brown cosponsored the Big Oil Bailout Prevention Liability Act which was introduced by Sens. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ), Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD), Charles E. Schumer (D-NY), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Bernie Sanders (D-VT).
"The tragic spill off the Gulf Coast will affect the environment and local residents and businesses, but it should not affect taxpayers," Brown said. "This bill would ensure that those responsible for the accident pay for the cleanup."
Although British Petroleum (BP) has stated that it will be paying for all the direct costs and damages associated with the Deepwater Horizon spill, current law places a cap on liability for damages.
This cap means that BP will not have to pay more than $75 million for damages such as lost business revenues from fishing or tourism, natural resources damages, or lost tax revenues of state and local governments.
The Big Oil Bailout Prevention Trust Fund Act (S. 3306), also introduced yesterday, would eliminate the $1 billion per incident cap on claims against the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund and allow community responders to access the fund for preparation and mitigation up front, rather than waiting for reimbursement later. The bill would also eliminate the $500 million cap on liability for natural resources damages.