Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Nothing New Makes The News

The Party of No continues to thwart any meaningful legislation from the Senate (otherwise known as the World's Most Exclusive Country Club). Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) was the culprit this time.

Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) was seeking the unanimous consent of the Senate to move forward on the Big Oil Bailout Prevention Act, which would retroactively boost the legal cap of $75 million on how much companies must pay for economic damages.

But Sen. James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.) blocked the effort, saying it would make drilling too expensive for smaller companies. "Big Oil would love to have these caps there so they can shut out all the independents," he said, echoing the argument of Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), who halted an identical move last week.

The legislative maneuvering came as federal officials expanded the no-fishing zone to nearly a fifth of the Gulf of Mexico. The closure now totals 45,728 square miles, extending southeast from the blowout site.

And your point, Sen. Inhofe? I mean, if an oil company can't afford to pay the cost of willful incompetence, then maybe they shouldn't be allowed to drill for oil. The size of the company doesn't matter, the results of its cost cutting when it comes to critical safety elements should. Even at $10 billion, the cap is suspiciously low. This latest disaster is going to cost far more than that.

BP has pledged to pay all "legitimate" claims of economic damage despite the current cap of $75 million. But Democratic lawmakers want to see a $10-billion cap set into law, just in case BP resists paying what is expected to be billions of dollars in claims.

The April 20 BP blowout is expected to cause billions of dollars in damage to fisheries and tourism, which would be covered by the bill.

That's just part of the damage, the calculable part. There's also the incalculable part: the loss of species, the ruination of the estuaries, the degradation of the environment.

Sen. Inhofe and his oil drilling buddies should be glad that there are few real progressives in the Country Club, people who would insist on there being no cap and who would insist on criminal sanctions and a corporate death sentence for any company found to have intentionally cut corners to make a few extra bucks.

A pox on all of the oil grubbers.

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