Getting out ahead of President Obama's big speech on energy and the BP oil disaster tomorrow and his meetings with BP executives, top Democrats today sent a letter to the oil giant asking it to create a $20 billion fund to cover damages resulting from the disaster, one that would be administered by an independent trustee. This would be "a useful first step for demonstrating that BP intends to meet its commitments," argued most of the Senate Democratic caucus in a letter to BP CEO Tony Hayward Monday.
The fund, they argue, would "serve as an act of good faith" and would ensure that "there will be no delay in payments or attempts to evade responsibility for damages." Obama, too, has been raising the pressure on BP to create an independently administered fund, though the administration hasn’t given a dollar figure, other than noting BP should allocate a "substantial" sum.
The senators include a jab at BP's big public relations campaign, too:
Congress is currently gathering information and holding hearings in order to develop evidence-based legislative solutions to address the Deepwater Horizon disaster. Although legislative action is forthcoming, the damages are immediate. In order to ensure BP fully and quickly covers the costs of this disaster, we are calling on BP to immediately establish a special account of $20 billion, administered by an independent trustee, to be used for payment of economic damages and clean-up costs. Establishment of this account would serve as an act of good faith and as a first step towards ensuring that there will be no delay in payments or attempt to evade responsibility for damages. Although creating this account at this level in no way limits BP’s liability, we believe it will do more to improve BP’s public image than the costly public relations campaign your company has launched.
The full letter is here.