Utah Republican Senate candidate: taxpayers should be on the hook for oil spill cleanups

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mike Lee, the far-right conservative who won the Republican Party’s nomination in Utah, sat down last week Friday with Robert Gehrke of the Salt Lake Tribune for an interview, and during that interview, Lee was asked if he supported efforts, such as the one offered by Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida, to raise the liability cap for oil companies from the current $75 million to at least $10 billion, and Lee’s answer was unequivocally, “No.”

Here’s a transcript of the exchange between Lee and his interviewer:

SL TRIBUNE: Currently there’s a cap on liabilities that BP is expected to pay $75 million dollars. There’s legislation that Bill Nelson sponsored to increase that liability to $10 billion dollars. The oil companies say that will put them out of business. Is that something you would be supportive of, increasing that cap on liability for environmental damage?


SL TRIBUNE: Why is that?

LEE: This company is reliant, the entire industry, is reliant on the insurance its provided by law. Now had that cap not been in place, we would be facing a completely different question. But you have a set of settled expectations that you give to a business when it decides to make an investment in this. Our country benefits from this type of activity and allows us to produce more oil and allows more of our petro dollars to remain in the United States. We’ve relied on that, and to take that away I think would be a mistake.

SL TRIBUNE: Does that leave taxpayers on the hook for part of the damage?

LEE: Well yea probably does. And the government can look at that and say look, we put this damages cap in place, so we understood what that meant.

SL TRIBUNE: Isn’t that equivalent to a bailout?

LEE: I don’t think, well, I don’t think that’s equivalent to a bailout. I think that’s the government saying there’s some things its going to — if you look at the Outer Continental Shelf, something over which the United States has jurisdiction, and the United State wants to clean that up, then it’s free to do so. There’s nothing in that liability cap that requires the Federal government to do it. Well I’m not sure that necessarily means the taxpayers will end up paying the bill. It maybe the industry generally will just contribute to it. In fact I would expect other people involved in offshore drilling will have a part of the clean up because they would want to to show this can be done safely and when disasters do happen it can be cleaned up.

Watch the exchange for yourself:

What I’d like to know is how leaving U.S. taxpayers on the hook for cleanups following an oil spill or some other type of oil-related accident isn’t tantamount to a taxpayer bailout of companies like BP or Exxon. Companies that are responsible for incidents like the current Gulf oil spill should be held fully accountable, not just partially accountable, and that’s why increasing the liability cap is a good idea, because American taxpayers shouldn’t be left to foot the bill for an expensive environmental cleanup caused by a private corporation like BP or Exxon.


Related Articles

7 thoughts on “Utah Republican Senate candidate: taxpayers should be on the hook for oil spill cleanups

  1. This whole thing makes me shake my head in disgust. It actually surprises me some Republicans are acting this way about the disaster. It’s like they have their fingers in their ears trying to ignore that the spill even happened.

    I’m not one to say we should stop all drilling forever, because that’s not realistic. We certainly need more strict regulation to prevent stuff like this from happening again though, or to such a degree, and BP should be required to do everything it can to clean up the mess. BP going beyond what the law says is not charity! It’s the company’s moral responsibility!

    I’m still shocked at how much damage this is doing. I had no idea one well could cause so much damage, nor did I know it would be difficult to plug a well. I wasn’t on the “Drill, baby drill!” bandwagon but I didn’t know each deep water well was potentially this dangerous.

  2. I’ve got a question…Will President Obama, the city of Chicago and State of Illinois be held responsible for the destruction the Asian Carp will cause on the Great Lakes & connected inland bodies of water? Just wondering.

    1. That has absolutely nothing to do with the topic at hand, and it’s kind of ridiculous to compare the spread of a fish to an artificially created oil spill.

      1. It certainly is related to the topic at hand. In both cases we’re talking about holding accountable, those whose actions are responsible for unleashing an environmental and economic disaster. One just hasn’t happened yet.

        Though I say failure to shut the locks is even worse. BP was cheap and greedy and took a gamble. There’s no gamble with the Asian Carp – leaving the man-made connections from the Mississippi & Illinois rivers will result in the species getting into the Great Lakes system.

  3. Great Question Locke!!

    Cudahy Guy: BEYOND PETROLEUM has been at the vanguard of exploring new sources of energy around the world. The reason we are drilling in mile deep waters is because of Environmental Extremist. It’s not cheap for BP and others to drill out there. But they go where the oil is and the restrictions are lowest. Yet thru the entire process of drilling this well the REGULATIONS have been extreme and under the wise eye of the Federal Govt. We still don’t know exactly who was at fault in this well problem. But if it was above ground in say ANWAR It would be easy to cap.

    Another point worth mentioning. While it’s not desirable to have massive amounts of oil floating around in the Gulf, it’s not that toxic to the water or shoreline. It doesn’t mix with water. so it can be managed. The impact at the shoreline will all be restorable. including the seafood business. Until that happens the President needs to lift his ban on drilling and production. and Obama and the US Senate needs to look at opening ANWAR and other areas to exploration. Drill here Drill now is just as good of an idea now as it was 2-4-6 and 10 years ago. Pipelines are safer than barges from the Mideast or platforms!

    1. The regulations aren’t extreme enough. They should have been drilling relief wells at the same time as the initial well.

  4. ROFL.

    There must be something wrong with our educational system to turn out people with advanced educations and no intelligence.

    “In fact I would expect other people involved in offshore drilling will have a part of the clean up because they would want to show this can be done safely and when disasters do happen it can be cleaned up.”

    Ha, ha , ha. Ha, ha , ha. Ha , ha, ha.

    I’m dying over here counting the times that Shell, Exxon, and Citgo called BP and offered their help in the past two months.

    Ha, ha , ha. Ha, ha , ha. Ha , ha, ha.

    Oh, gosh. Too funny.

Comments are closed.