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Murkowski Blocks Bill to Hike Industry Liability for Oil Spills

Today on Capitol Hill, Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) took to the chamber floor and asked for unanimous consent to pass his much-discussed bill to raise the

Candice Burns
Last updated: Jul 31, 2020 | May 14, 2010

Today on Capitol Hill, Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) took to the chamber floor and asked for unanimous consent to pass his much-discussed bill to raise the liability ceiling — from $75 million to $10 billion – on economic damages resulting from an oil spill. The proposal is a response to questions about just how much of the spill’s economic damage BP is poised to pay in the wake of last month’s Deepwater Horizon blast in the Gulf of Mexico.

The Menedez bill didn’t get very far. Instead, Sen. Lisa Murkowki (R-Alaska), on behalf of the oil industry, blocked the motion. Her reasoning is worth a mention.

First, Murkowski invoked Alaska’s dismal experience following the Exxon Valdez disaster more than 20 years ago. “We lived with oil on our beaches,” she said. “We know the economic impact — we know the social impact — that a spill can cause.”

Then she argued that the responsible party should indeed pay for such accidents. The goal of Congress, she said, should be to “ensure that those that are responsible pay for the economic loss for the damages that are incurred. We’re with you on this.”

Then she immediately walked back that statement, arguing that a liability hike from $75 million to $10 billion ”isn’t where we need to be right now.” Instead, she offered, “maybe we need to understand a little bit better as to how much we might need to look at raising the limit.”

To no one’s surprise, she didn’t mention the $426,000 she’s accepted from the oil industry in her eight-year tenure on the Hill.

Candice Burns | Candice Burns has worked in the real estate industry for a long time. She understands the importance of a home for long-term happiness and has dedicated her career to placing people in the home of their dreams. Candice's passions for helping others during difficult times and a strong interest in high-end, luxury homes drove her to explore real estate. She's been in the real estate business for ten years and has helped over 3,500 people find homes during that period. She earned a bachelor's degree in business administration from the University of Los Angeles. She's worked with some of Los Angeles' most prestigious real estate firms.


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