Blunt to offer companion in House to Vitter's spill liability bill

Nick Snow
OGJ Washington Editor

WASHINGTON, DC, May 21 -- US Rep. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), the Energy and Commerce Committee’s deputy ranking minority member, said he will introduce legislation to increase liability of companies responsible for crude oil spills to an amount directly tied to their profits. The measure would be similar to a bill introduced on May 13 by US Sens. David Vitter (R-La.), Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), and Roger F. Wicker (R-Miss.).

Blunt said on May 21 that his bill would establish a new liability cap equal to the last four quarters of the responsible party’s profits or double the current limit, whichever is greater. “This will ensure that responsible parties bear the full costs where appropriate, well above the $10 billion cap some support,” he said, referring to bills introduced by US Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) in the Senate and Rush D. Holt (D-NJ) in the House.

Blunt said his bill also would establish greater reserve requirements for the amount of oil containment barriers, or boom, capable of withstanding up to 6-ft waves and would direct work on technology to cap leaks. It also would require agencies involved in the response to the current Gulf of Mexico spill to submit an exhaustive report by Sept. 1 so Congress can evaluate their procedures and practices’ effectiveness, he indicated.

“This plan requires that oil companies implement new safety standards and environmental safeguards to prevent a disaster like this from happening in the future,” said Blunt. “American must preserve a comprehensive energy strategy, including deepwater exploration, but we must do so with strong environmental protections and with the knowledge that the taxpayers won’t be left holding the bill for any cleanup.”

The US Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee plans to examine spill liability limits on May 25 in its third hearing on the Apr. 20 rig accident and subsequent crude oil spill.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.



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