Today, Paul Hodes called on Congress to force BP executives to start repaying the American taxpayers for oil spill cleanup costs resulting from the Deepwater Horizon disaster. The federal emergency fund for cleaning up oil spills is quickly running out of money, and government officials are rushing to reallocate public funds in order to continue needed cleanup operations. In a letter to House leadership, Hodes called on Congress to take a stand against using any more public money to front BP's cleanup costs; and to force the oil giant to begin paying for cleanup operations out of their own pockets.
"Now is the time for BP to make good on their promises and begin making payments for the continuing clean up costs of the Deepwater Horizon disaster," wrote Hodes in the letter. "There is no reason to delay in demanding that they pay, immediately, for the mess they have created."
Administration officials have expressed worry that the Emergency Fund of the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund could run out of money within the next two weeks. The Administration has asked Congress for permission to replenish the emergency fund with federal dollars, which BP would be asked to repay in the future. In a letter to Congressional leaders, Hodes is calling for Congress to cut off BP's line of credit and make them pay for cleanup costs as they are incurred.
Already, the emergency fund has used $93 million of public funds to clean up BP's Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the largest environmental disaster in US history. And while BP has not yet reimbursed the US government for these expenses, media reports indicate that BP shareholders are planning to cash out $10.3 billion of the oil company's profits within the next six weeks.
The full text of the Hodes letter to Congressional Leadership is below:
Dear Speaker Pelosi and Minority Leader Boehner,
I am writing to express my serious concerns about the potential that the House of Representatives will soon consider transferring funding into the Emergency Fund of the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund. BP has caused an unprecedented and catastrophic environmental and economic disaster in the Gulf Coast and has promised to pay for the cleanup. With the Emergency Fund running low, now is the time for BP to make good on their promises and begin making payments for the continuing clean up costs of the Deepwater Horizon disaster.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has requested funds be transferred to temporarily pay for the government's response to the disaster, noting that BP will be billed and eventually pay these costs. While the Administration works to ensure funding is available, media reports have indicated that BP is on the verge of paying out $10.3 billion in profits to its shareholders. BP is clearly able to begin paying for the cleanup now, and there is no reason to delay in demanding that they pay, immediately, for the mess they have created.
BP must begin making payments directly into the Emergency Fund, rather than receiving a loan from the federal government to make payments to shareholders. As the House of Representatives considers how to deal with the shortfall in the Emergency Fund, I urge you to not allow funding to flow from other accounts to relieve, even temporarily, BP's obligation to clean up from this disaster. Thank you for your consideration of this request.