Republicans Favor Bailout Of The Oil Industry

by Ben Hoffman

WASHINGTON (AFP) – US Senate Democrats failed Thursday in a bid to quickly pass legislation that would dramatically increase oil firms’ economic liability after massive spills like the one soiling the Gulf of Mexico.

The measure, pushed by lawmakers from New Jersey and Florida, would raise the ceiling on damages an oil company could have to pay for things like lost tourism or fishing revenue from 75 million dollars to 10 billion.

Democratic Senators Robert Menendez, Frank Lautenberg, and Bill Nelson sought immediate passage by the “unanimous consent” of all senators, but Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski objected, temporarily stalling the legislation.

Read more…

With a $75 million cap on damages, that means taxpayers will be left footing the bill, since it’s bound to cost far more than that to clean up an oil spill of this magnitude. This is socialism at its worst — socialized risks but privatized profits. We can’t afford to clean up their mess. Again.

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6 Comments to “Republicans Favor Bailout Of The Oil Industry”

  1. Your headline is a lie.

    Sure, I think Murkowski’s response is predictably political, but the proposal by Republicans Vitter and Sessions has far more clout than what even the Democrats themselves are proposing. According to the article, it raises the cap to $20b OR profits from the last four quarters, whichever is greater and says nothing about a “bailout”.

    Also, let’s be realistic – there’s what’s charged and what actually will get paid, and how fast it gets paid. The $75m is a joke – we could make it $50b, but the higher the penalty, the more it’s going to be delayed in courts and buried into our gas prices in-between. Lawyers could end up seeing most of that money.

    The real teeth of this bill will not necessarily be the amount of the penalty, I think, but rather how strongly and how quickly these measures are enforced.

    • [… and says nothing about a “bailout”.]

      If taxpayers are left footing the bill, it’s a bailout.

      [the higher the penalty, the more it’s going to be delayed in courts and buried into our gas prices in-between. Lawyers could end up seeing most of that money.]

      You’re right, but that’s a problem with the system that needs to be fixed. It looks more and more like the Minerals Management Service allowed environmental hazards to exist, even with new leadership under Obama.

      • If it were a bailout we’d be paying the oil company, not the victims. Imagine if the money from the auto and financial bailouts went to the actual victims!

        But I see what you mean. The oil companies have been largely off the hook, and if the taxpayers end up paying it might as well be a bailout. The $75m was a joke, the standards and enforcement were a joke. I don’t blame Obama – I congratulate the lobbyists once again.

      • Good morning, Vern! 🙂

        Yeah, it shows the problems with our government. Corporations have far too much say in policy. Here’s a sickening article about the oil spill and lack of oversight that could have prevented it.
        http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/14/us/14agency.html

  2. Your post, as usual, is very misleading. You really should understand all the facts, policies and issues before shooting from the hip in hatred with pieced together stories to make it come across differently to readers. But coming from someone who sites the almost dead NY Times and Keith Olbermann, well it makes sense.

    You reference the federal law that sets a $75 million limit how much BP has to pay for damages like lost wages and economic suffering, but you end the sentence leaving the reader to believe that is all BP has to pay for the entire thing. You state, “it’s bound to cost far more than that to clean up an oil spill of this magnitude.” If you want to have any credibility as a writer, you have to be honest with your readers and stop trying to mislead them.

    This $75 million cap (for just the economic suffering and lost wages only) can be lifted if BP is found to have failed to meet federal safeguards or was otherwise grossly negligent. Which it most likely will. The reason they have not been labeled this yet is because they need to confirm what exactly happened and who’s error was it. Sure, we all know it will come down to them but they have to confirm it first. Also note, that BP’s largest contribution was to Obama (by far) and roughly 3 months later, a hand full of Bp’s oil rigs were given exemptions from federal inpections. No surprise to hear this rig was one of them. I tell you this not to just pointing the finger at Obama, because many administrations have been doing this and the blame goes to both sides of the aisle. Obama was just at the helm when the disaster happened.

    When its all said and done, BP could pay anywhere between $5 billion and $15 billion for the cleanup, damage claims and lawsuits. They are paying $6 million a day right now to contain, or at least try to contain, the spill. The Federal Oil Pollution Act requires BP to pay the cost of all cleanup work done by government agencies like the Coast Guard and Homeland Security. Exxon dished out over $4 Billion 21 years ago with the Exxon Valdez spill.

    Now I have to confirm the following, but its worth researching, but I have heard from a couple sources on the Hill that there is a federal reserve of funds set aside for such disasters. Funded directly from the oil companies and it has built up to over $150 Billion. If so, why aren’t we using that fund? It what it is there for! But again, it needs to be confirmed.

    All of this said, this is a disaster that BP needs to and will be paying for. Its impossible for them to compensate everything and everyone directly and indirectly affected and that is a shame. So yes, many Americans will be screwed on some levels. I do agree $75 million for compensating economic losses and lost wages is not enough, but its not like BP only pays that and the tax payers pay the rest.

    And since when is a big-government-higher-taxes-take-over guy like yourself so worried about American tax payers? Shouldn’t you be writing more about Arizona enforcing a current federal law at the state level?

    • [And since when is a big-government-higher-taxes-take-over guy like yourself so worried about American tax payers?]

      I’m an American taxpayer and I don’t want to pay for the damage done by BP, but that’s beside the point.

      You favor big business at the expense of the middle class. I favor the middle class first and foremost.

      A lot of middle class fishermen, suppliers, restaurants, and numerous other workers and small businesses are having their livelihoods destroyed due to the oil disaster. While they do have the right to sue, that takes years or even decades, as was in the case of the Exxon Valdez spill. With the Supreme Court favoring big corporations, the award was reduced significantly and most of the little guys weren’t justly compensated or just went out of business.

      Raising the limit to 10 billion will provide a little incentive to implement more safety measures and protect our environment rather than just trying to figure out ways to get around regulations.

      One question for you: Do you care at all about the middle class and the environment, or is big business all you care about?

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