Americans Overwhelmingly Support Eliminating Cap on Oil Company Damages from Oil Spills
8 in 10 Americans Want BP and Others to Pay Full Damages
Washington, D.C.—Americans are ready for BP to pick up the tab for spill-related damages in the Gulf of Mexico, and a majority also think the U.S. Minerals Management Service is too broken to effectively do its job, according to a new poll released today by Food & Water Watch.
Eighty-two percent of registered voters polled support removing the current federal cap on oil company liability following a spill, and over half—54 percent—support the creation of an entirely new agency to regulate the oil and gas industries. Conducted by Lake Research Partners, the survey interviewed 1,000 adults living in the United States from June 10 to June 13. Participants who supported these reforms comprised a range of political leanings, ages, geographic locations, incomes, and levels of education.
“The public is clearly ready for BP to pay for the mess it caused in the Gulf,” said Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter. “Corporations such as BP have been given free reign by the MMS to write their own rules, and a majority of Americans are ready to kick the agency to the curb and start all over again.”
For over a year, Food & Water Watch has worked to publicize safety problems on the BP Atlantis, a deep-water drilling operation in the Gulf of Mexico. Since the recent spill, the organization has been advocating the following remedies to protect against another, even worse spill:
- Immediately closing BP’s Atlantis project as well as its estimated 17 other deepwater drilling production operations in the Gulf of Mexico until an independent third party has proven that they are operating with complete sets of engineer-approved drawings for their above and below-sea components, as required by law.
- Inspecting the more than 141 deepwater oil producing projects operating in the Gulf of Mexico for complete engineer-approved documentation.
- Debarring BP from any future contracts with the federal government.
- Removing the new bureau of Safety and Environment Enforcement from the auspices of the U.S. Mineral Management Service (MMS) and reforming it as an independent agency organized to protect worker safety and marine environments.
- Eliminating the liability cap on damages paid by oil companies.
- Evaluating EPA’s National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan regulations and statutes, including the process by which dispersants such as COREXIT9500A are allowed to be used.
- Ensuring that the recently announced Presidential Commission, which is investigating everything from the causes of the spill to the safety of offshore oil drilling and the functioning of government agencies that oversee drilling, remains independent of industry influence.
Separate pieces of legislation introduced by Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) to eliminate the liability cap are currently moving through both houses of Congress.
Survey participants were asked:
As you know, the current federal law limits the amount of responsibility oil companies have for the damages they cause. Would you favor or oppose Congress eliminating the cap so oil companies must pay for ALL the damages they cause following an oil spill?
Do you agree or disagree with the following statement: The government agency responsible for regulating the petroleum industry, the Mineral Management Service, is too broken to be effective to do its job. We need a new agency to regulate oil and gas, that has the best interests of citizens in mind rather than the oil and gas corporations. Do you agree or disagree or are you not sure?
Contact: Kate Fried, Food & Water Watch: (202) 683-2500, kfried(at)fwwatch(dot)org.