Sen. Mark Begich introduced legislation Monday that would force all oil companies to set aside a significant amount of money to cover costs in the event of a spill.
The Alaska Democrat’s bill follows up on President Barack Obama’s announcement last week that BP agreed to set up an escrow account of $20 billion to pay for cleanup efforts and compensation packages to Gulf Coast victims whose livelihoods were ruined by the April 20 Deepwater Horizon spill.
“I appreciate BP appears to have recognized its responsibility and agreed to this fund, but we need a legislative hammer to guarantee the same commitment in the future for catastrophic spills like the one we have now,” Begich said in a statement.
Begich said the legislation was aimed at avoiding long lag times for payouts, which he said plagued Alaskans following the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill. The bill is co-sponsored by Democratic Sens. Ron Wyden (Ore.) and Amy Klobuchar (Minn.).
“It’s another tool for our toolkit as Congress works on liability reform designed to make those injured whole again, while at the same time allowing responsible companies to provide oil our country needs,” Begich said.