U.S. Senate Panel Votes to End Oil Spill Liability Cap
    2010-07-01 09:49:32     Xinhua      Web Editor: Wang Wenwen
 

Decontamination equipment from oil clean-up crews sits on the beach as an oil-coated barrier tries to keep out the high waves after workers were evacuated as a feeder band from Hurricane Alex caused high winds and lightening in the area on Fourchon Beach on June 30, 2010 in Port Fourchon, Louisiana. Officials hope that the storm will not cause too much of a problem for the continued efforts to contain the oil spill from the Deepwater Horizon rig as millions of gallons of oil have spilled into the Gulf since the April 20 explosion on the drilling platform. [Photo: Joe Raedle/GettyNorthAmerica/CFP]

Special: Oil Spill Impact

The U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on Wednesday voted to eliminate a cap on damage claims that oil companies would have to pay for disasters like the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

The amendment to the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 would set unlimited financial liability for offshore oil drillers.

The Committee approved the measure by voice vote and sent it to the full Senate. The change, if approved and made law, would apply retroactively to BP's massive Gulf of Mexico spill.

Under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 introduced after the Exxon Valdez oil tanker disaster in Alaska in 1989, oil companies are bound by law to pay for the full clean-up and containment costs of any oil seeping from their facilities after an accident. But the legislation caps the damage for which the firm is liable at 75 million dollars unless the company is guilty of "gross negligence."

That is widely regarded on Capitol Hill as too low. U.S. President Barack Obama also supports raising the ceiling.
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