Monday, May 03, 2010


Obama says BP will pay, but law limits their liability

by Larry Geller

A tiny tax on oil supports what the New York Times described as a “rainy day fund” to mitigate damage from oil spills. That sounds good, but they report that there is more to the law:

Under the law that established the reserve, called the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund, the operators of the offshore rig face no more than $75 million in liability for the damages that might be claimed by individuals, companies or the government, although they are responsible for the cost of containing and cleaning up the spill. [New York Times, Tax on Oil May Help Pay for Cleanup, 5/1/2010]

Fishermen, shrimpers and others are watching the waters at this moment, awaiting the arrival of the oil slick that could doom their livelihoods for nearly a generation. It doesn’t look like British Petroleum will bear much of the cost to compensate them. Or their children, for their lost livelihoods.

The prospects for corrective legislation may be tempered by corporations’ new ability to fork out unlimited campaign contributions. What Congressperson will risk forgoing future handouts by even suggesting a regulatory clampdown?

BP will be responsible for the costs of cleanup, though who is keeping the tab on that?


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