A day after Alaska Republican Lisa Murkowski shot down a Democratic-led effort to lift the liability cap on oil companies, Florida Sen. George LeMieux and three other Gulf Coast Republicans introduced legislation they say would "dramatically increase" the liability.
The legislation would establish a new cap equal to the last four quarters of the responsible party’s profits -- or double the current limit, whichever is greater.
"BP is already responsible for the costs of the cleanup, but we must ensure taxpayers are not forced to pay for associated damages, "LeMieux said. He said economic damage from the spill will "far exceed" the current $75 million cap and that under the bill, BP's liability would jump to $17 billion dollars.
The bill also calls for a "thorough report" to Congress from all agencies involved in the response to the spill by September 1. The report, the senators say, "will evaluate what went wrong with the immediate response to the spill by private entities and the federal government."
The bill would also require that "the best technologies and equipment are staged to respond to potential
spills within 24 hours" and establish greater reserve requirements for the amount of oil containment barriers. Under the bill, enough flame retardant booms capable of withstanding six-foot waves to corral 100 square miles of ocean would have to be available for deployment anywhere in the country within 24 hours. It also requires the development of capping or dome technology capable of working at depths 2,000 feet below the current deepest well that can also be deployed in 24 hours.