Senators to BP: cough up $20 billion advance

Monday, June 14, 2010

Please see the following release from Senator Bill Nelson's office:

In advance of the president’s trip to Florida’s Panhandle tomorrow, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson today continued to insist that BP and the White House take steps to keep taxpayers from having to foot the bill for the massive cleanup. The Florida Democrat also stressed that now is the time for the administration to launch a full-scale effort to get the U.S. off its dependence on oil.

Nelson was in Pensacola today for a first-hand look at the impact the oil spill is having on the Panhandle region. President Obama is due to be there tonight and tomorrow as he responds to growing concerns there over the spill. The state’s tourism and commercial fishing industries already are reeling.

To help, Nelson and a number of his Senate Democratic colleagues released a letter they wrote to BP’s boss Tony Hayward asking that he set up a trust fund with a $20 billion advance from the oil behemoth “as an act of good faith and as a first step toward ensuring that there will be no delay in payments or attempt to evade responsibility for damages.”

“The costs associated with the spill are being vastly underestimated by both BP as well as some government officials,” Nelson said today. “We have to fight to ensure that it’s BP, not the taxpayers, bearing the financial brunt of this disaster.”

From the outset, Nelson has pushed to hold BP accountable. He filed legislation to raise the liability the company faced for economic and environmental damages from $75 million to $10 billion. As the spill grew, he said that $10 billion might not even be enough, asserting that BP should be prepared to pay an unlimited amount.

Over the past few weeks, Nelson also has been a vocal critic of the handling of the spill, calling repeatedly for control of cleanup operations to be placed under the supervision of a military-like command and control operation.

Today, while in Pensacola, Nelson said it was time for Obama to step out front – like President Kennedy did in sending Americans to the moon – to launch a full-blown initiative to free

the U.S. from its dependence on oil. “If ever there was a time, this is it,” Nelson said.

For years, the Senator has opposed drilling for oil off Florida’s coast “for reasons,” he said, “are exemplified by this abominable tragedy.”


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