Reps. Curbelo and Murphy Introduce Foreign Spill Protection Act

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Washington, D.C., March 26, 2015 | comments

Washington, D.C. The premise of the Oil Pollution Act (OPA) of 1990 is that the party responsible for an oil spill is responsible for all cleanup costs. 

However, OPA only applies to spills that originate in American waters.  If a spill were to occur off the coast of a foreign nation, and the oil reached American waters, the Oil Liability Trust Fund would pay $150 million for cleanup and up to $850 million for claims.  The U.S. Attorney General has existing authority to seek compensation for the fund from the responsible party but the most they would have to pay is $1 billion. If the spill exceeds $1 billion, American taxpayers or affected states would have to pay the difference.

In 2012, Mexico's top oil regulator stated that his nation was ill-prepared to handle an offshore spill.  The Bahamas has stepped up their offshore oil operations and Cuba has been eyeing their own offshore resources.

In a bipartisan effort to address these serious concerns, Rep. Carlos Curbelo (FL-26) and Rep. Patrick Murphy (FL-18) have introduced the Foreign Spill Protection Act.   The legislation would ensure that the responsible party, regardless of origin, pays for ALL American cleanup costs by applying OPA to them.  Furthermore, the bill would apply the Clean Water Act penalties on the responsible foreign party. 

"Our coastal communities need peace of mind that if they are impacted by a foreign spill, resources are available to clean up their shores and help them recover. American taxpayers should not have to foot the bill to bail out the mistakes of foreign companies," Curbelo said.

"We must not risk putting the American public on the hook for a spill that could devastate our coastlines and our environment, especially when considering that the BP oil spill is estimated to cost at least $14 billion in clean-up efforts," said Murphy. "That is why I'm proud to co-sponsor this common sense bill that will help protect Florida's shores from spills originating in foreign waters, and to ensure that anyone responsible for a spill will be responsible for the clean-up."

To read the legislation in its entirety, please click here.



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