Bill to Raise Oil Spill Cap Rejected Again

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


Democrats tried again this morning to bring up their “Big Oil Bailout Prevention Act,” a measure that would raise the liability cap for major oil spills from $75 million to $10 billion. And once again, that effort was shot down by Republicans—this time by the Senate’s climate-change-denier-in-chief, Oklahoma’s James Inhofe.

In blocking the measure, Inhofe made the same argument that Alaska Republican Lisa Murkowski made last week. The two Republicans worry that a $10 billion cap would bar small players from entering the offshore drilling business. Inhofe also made sure to include some scare-mongering about China and Venezuela for good measure. Yep, that’s Inhofe—always looking out for the underdogs:

Big oil would love to have these caps up there so they can shut out all the independents. Now we have independents, my state of Oklahoma, and right now 63 percent of the Gulf’s natural gas and 36 percent of its oil are produced by independents. Now what you do if you raise the caps right now precipitously to this high, you will help the five big oil companies, including BP, give them exclusive rights, you help the nationalized oil companies such as those in China and Venezuela.

Unfortunately for supporters of raising the damage cap, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar gave Inhofe and Murkowski’s obstruction a boost on Tuesday. While Salazar maintained the Obama administration’s position that the cap should be raised, he indicated that $10 billion is too high (despite the fact that the Gulf spill is already on course to exceed that figure). “You don’t want only the BPs of the world to be involved in these operations,” said Salazar. He said that the administration “will work with you and other members of Congress to get to a number that makes sense.”

Robert Menendez (D-NJ), a co-sponsor of the bill to raise the cap, balked at Salazar’s suggestion. “That simply means if you’re smaller you can get away with taking the same risk and having less liability.”

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate