Obama wants to beef up law on oil spill damage cap

WASHINGTON Mon May 10, 2010 7:34pm EDT

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama wants his administration to send legislation to Congress to toughen U.S. law on caps for damages from oil spills, the White House said on Monday.

Obama also will send his secretary of energy, Steven Chu, other administration officials and government scientists to Houston this week "for an extensive dialogue" with officials from BP Plc on potential solutions, as he grapples with concerns about environmental and economic disaster from the huge slick in the Gulf of Mexico.

But the administration repeated its assertion that BP will be on the hook for what could be billions of dollars in cleanup costs.

"As the President has made clear before, BP will be paying for all costs of stopping the spill and cleaning it up, and we will aggressively pursue full compensation for damages," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said in a statement.

On May 5, U.S. lawmakers in the House of Representatives introduced legislation similar to an effort in the Senate that would force BP to pay hefty damages for the spill.

The House bill, like legislation introduced in the Senate, would raise the maximum amount of money BP could be required to dole out for economic losses caused by the spill to $10 billion from $75 million.

Obama held a meeting at the White House on Monday with Cabinet secretaries and other administration officials to talk about the slick.

As they evaluate different options to try to stop the flow of oil, Obama pushed for the use of independent experts and bringing every perspective to the table.

Since the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded and sank last month, claiming 11 lives, hundreds of thousands of gallons (liters) of crude oil a day have been gushing into the Gulf, with no solution in sight.

Obama visited the region on May 2 and his administration has been working to reassure the public that it is doing everything it can to assist in efforts to stop the flow and that BP, not the U.S. government, will fund the cleanup.

"In addition, to deal more generally with the harms created by oil spills, the president has requested that we send legislation to Congress to toughen and update the law surrounding caps on damages," Gibbs said.

(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle, Editing by Eric Walsh)

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Comments (21)
Rainbird wrote:
Wow!!! TALK ABOUT TOO LITTLE TOO LATE!!!
Why aren’t there thousands of boats and ships skimming the oil off the Gulf? Why should we believe any of the current wells are safe? Because the people who build them and manage them say they are??? Is Yucca Mountain safe? WHY ON EARTH were companies allowed to put in a well so deep that they couldn’t fix it if things went wrong?!!

May 10, 2010 8:10pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
GlobalGramma wrote:
Why is there ANY limit on liability for damages for a huge oil spill. These costs could run into far more than 10 billion…and the taxpayers and the local economy are left sucking it up rather than the company who profits from these risky endeavors. ALL LIABILITY LIMITS SHOULD BE REVOKED BY LAW.

May 10, 2010 8:11pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
bck555 wrote:
If Obama doesn’t like the law, he ignores it or changes it to suit his agenda. Ignore Federal Laws regarding the enforcement of illegal immigration. Yet attempt to retroactively change and then enforce laws written 15 years ago regarding limits on liability. All because the Federal response to the spill was so poor, he now needs a way to make up for the response “deficit”.

May 10, 2010 12:01am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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