Still No Vote on Liability Cap


Well, here’s a sign that things are returning to “normal.” You remember that ludicrous liability cap the Oil Production Act imposed? The one limiting BP’s non-cleanup costs to $75 million? It became such a national joke, that BP agreed to pay beyond the cap without much fuss. If anything was a no-brainer for Congress, that liability cap was it.

Well, inexplicably, the U.S. Senate still hasn’t raised the cap, failing to even get a vote before going on August vacation this week.

Think about that folks. Months into the BP oil spill and Congress still can’t get its act together to raise the $75 million cap on BP liability. At best, the issue will be considered sometime mid-September when lawmakers return from recess. So much for the idea that our national response would be like we were “at war” with the oil.

At issue, I understand, is a measure to leave liability unlimited, I guess because we realize that the full extent of the damages are completely unknown. But Republicans counter that this would discourage drilling. No kidding. Yes, you can bet it would, just like being held accountable for any dangerous activity tends to curtail that activity, or at least, we hope, make the parties involved act less recklessly.

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Stuart H. Smith is an attorney based in New Orleans fighting major oil companies and other polluters.
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