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Shocker: GOP Blocks Effort to Hold Oil Companies Accountable for Economic Damage from Spills

This post originally appeared on Daily Kos. I'm sure you'll be shocked by this: acting on behalf of her Republican colleagues (and some oil-friendly Democrats like Mary Landrieu), Alaska's Republican U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski today blocked legislation that would have lifted the $75 million liability cap protecting big oil companies like BP from paying for economic damage caused by their oil spills. The legislation, dubbed "The Big Oil Bailout Prevention Act," was written by Robert Menendez, Bill Nelson, and Frank Lautenberg. It would have raised the cap to $10 billion, a figure Murkowski said was far too high. Murkowski complained that the bill's new limit is "133 times the size of the current strict liability limit," arguing that a higher cap would freeze out small oil companies. She then undercut her argument by saying the higher cap was not needed because oil companies already face unlimited damages under state laws. (Not only does that argument undercut her demand that there be liability limits, but it also assumes that state laws haven't limited oil company liability as well.) Yesterday, the administration formally proposed lifting the caps, but didn't say how high. Unfortunately, there doesn't appear to be any serious discussion of unlimited caps.