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Politics & Power

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Should Congress Remove All Liability Caps On Oil Spills?

Under current laws oil companies cannot be forced to pay more than $75 million in liability claims for oil spills. As the current crisis in the Gulf of Mexico clearly shows $75 million is a drop in the bucket of what a serious oil spill can cost to clean up. That doesn’t even account for the cost of making people negatively affected by the spill whole financially. While some in Congress have suggested setting a higher cap of $10 billion others have said that even that is not nearly enough to fully make right everything hurt by a major oil spill.

The thought that this should even be a debate is almost too much to comprehend. In a society that espouses values of fairness and accountability there should be no question that companies are responsible to make right that which they damage in the course of doing business. There is an old rule in many stores that if you break something you are required to pay for it before you leave the store. We’ve all heard the expression “You break it you buy it.” Why should it be any different for big corporations? The short answer is that it shouldn’t be any different.

While BP has taken the brunt of the outcry for the environmental disaster in the gulf there are other deep pockets to blame and who need to be held accountable. Transocean and Halliburton both had active roles in the management and design of the equipment that failed causing the spill. For that reason they too need to be held accountable. The question of a cap on liability is really a question of whether Washington politicians are willing to be openly for sale to the highest bidder.

Halliburton is well known for their cozy relationships with prominent politicians such as former Vice President Dick Cheney and their failures to hold themselves accountable for their actions as was the case when the showers they built for soldiers in Iraq began electrocuting the soldiers while they showered. Transocean has a history of accidents dating back to 1979 and has been steadily declining in reputation since its merger with GlobalSantaFe in 2007. As it stands now neither corporation has been the focus of Congress or the White House but if the limits of liability are lifted on oil spills both companies could face millions or billions in losses for their roles in the gulf oil spill.

Obviously the oil companies and other industry interests will fight the proposals to lift caps on liability for oil spills. The question is whether our elected officials will represent our interests or corporate interests when they decide whether or not to lift the cap on liability for oil spills. The people of the gulf coast did not spill millions of gallons of oil into the ocean and onto their beaches. BP, Transocean and Halliburton did. With the latest numbers showing up to 60,000 barrels (nearly 2.5 million gallons) per day pouring into the gulf and no end in sight the responsible parties need to be held accountable. Any legislator that has taken money from any of these companies should recuse themselves from voting on the issue of lifting the cap and those who have not taken money from the companies should step up to represent the American people and make those responsible for the devastation pay for every last cent it costs to make the gulf, coast and residents of the region whole.

Troy Wilson-Ripsom | Staff Writer | E-mail Comments on this column. | Click icon to Digg this article



Get Involved

Do you sit and yell at the TV when politicians come on? Do you shake your head sadly whenever you see a homeless veteran? Is that all you tend to do?

It's time to put up or shut up America. We all love to talk about how we could do things better or how we would do it if we were in charge. Well, it's time to put your money where your mouth is. If you can think of it, you can write it down. If you can write it down, you can type it. If you can type it, you can e-mail it and if you can e-mail it, you can send it here.

We at Reform America are committed to giving voice to anyone who wants to put their ideas out there to make our nation a better place. As the readership grows, we are able to take those views to a wider and wider audience. Grassroots campaigns begin with voices speaking out. You have opinions. Voice them. We aren't about conservative or liberal. We aren't about pro-this or anti-that. We're about Americans and the First Amendment. Reform America is about politics by, for and of the people. You are the people. You only need to speak up. America is listening. Send your article to: stories@reform-america.net



Have You Been Downsized Due to Outsourcing?

For several years now we have listened to some within the business community tell us that America can't compete on a global scale unless they send our jobs overseas where they can be done cheaper. The question becomes, if we don't have good paying jobs here, how can we sustain our own economy? We want to hear from you. Have you lost your job? Have you been forced into a lower wage job due to outsourcing? Has outsourcing been a success for you? Did you end up in a better job?

Tell us your story so we can make sure the politicians see how outsourcing really impacts the workers who are backbone of America. Send your story to stories@reform-america.net





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