Can Obama do an end-run on liability limits for BP?
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
This is going to be interesting to watch play out. In his Oval Office speech to the nation tonight, President Obama is expected to lay out his plan to demand BP establish an escrow account for people and businesses harmed by the devastating Gulf Oil disaster. The amount being bandied about: $10 billion.
That’s considerably higher than the $75 million cap we wrote about a while back, part of the deal between the U.S. Government and the oil industry to create a fund for cleaning up spills — but one that ultimately has been paid for by consumers. The White House says it thinks it can do it legally, though a session with BP executives Wednesday will be key to determining whether BP will go along with it, or fight it in court (can their image get any more tarnished?).
Joel Achenbach of The Washington Post is taking a jaundiced view, though:
At this precise moment, a complete rupture looks unlikely. The administration is demanding that BP fork over billions for an escrow account to handle claims against the company. BP so far has signaled that it’s willing to do so, provided that it has certain assurances.
Most importantly, it wants some sense that there’s going to be a limit to its liability, and that it won’t have to make up the lost wages of every rig worker sidelined by the administration’s six-month moratorium on deep-water drilling.
“A limit to its liability.” Good idea. Let’s limit it to the damages BP and its partners have caused, shall we?
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