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Editorial: Congress: stand up to BP’s bully tactics

September 3, 2010

BP to Congress: Stop us from drilling and we’ll slash funding for Gulf Coast Restoration

You probably have seen the big full page ads in which BP promises to “Make this Right.” Ah, yes, but now it seems there are serious strings attached.

According to an article in today’s NY Times, BP is warning Congress that if Congress passes legislation barring the company from new offshore drilling permits, “it may not have the money to pay for all the damages caused by its oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.” The article goes on to say while BP intends to honor its commitment to the White House to set aside $20 billion and also plans to pay damage claims and government penalties. However, it has notified members of Congress that it may cut curtail payments for other programs. For example, Louisiana Governor Jindal, has requested that BP finance a five-year, $173 million program to test, certify and promote gulf seafood. Other states are making additional requests.

Congressman George Miller (D-CA) sponsor of the amendment that would deny new offshore drilling permits to BP

BP’s gambit is a response to a bill passed by the House of Representatives (July 30). The bill contains an amendment by Congressman George Miller (D-CA) that would deny new offshore drilling permits to any company with (a) more than 10 fatalities at one of its facilities or (b) if the company had received fines of more than $10 million for Clean Air Act or Clean Water Act violations.

Apparently, BP is willing to use the urgent needs of Gulf State communities as bargaining chips in order to get its way with Congress. The company’s lobbyists are now pushing key Senators to strip out the George Miller’s amendment and other provisions of the legislation it finds objectionable.

David Nagel, Executive Vice President BP America. Photo: C. Somdevilla, Getty Images

BP officials ares now whining that is being forced to sell off some $30 billion in assets to pay on is liabilities. Congress, however, should remind BP that it has one of the worst safety records in the oil industry. It is also under investigation for a variety of possible civil and criminal violations for its response to the Deepwater horizon disaster. Congress should stand firm and tell BP that has a long way to go to prove that it can can do offshore drilling safely.

Another reason to stay firm; We now have a new oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico. It may not have the dire impact of the Deepwater disaster, but it point out just how risky drilling into high pressure oil and gas deposits can be.

What can you do? Call your Congressman and Senators; tell them to hold tight — BP has failed to demonstrate that it is sea-worthy.

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