Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen and Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano sent a letter to congressional leaders Friday warning that the government is in danger of running out of money for the emergency response to the Gulf disaster. Unless Congress acts to free up other money from the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund (OSLTF), currents funds “will be insufficient to sustain Federal response operations within two weeks,” they warned.
As of June 1, the administration has spent $93 million responding to the Gulf disaster, and BP has yet to reimburse the federal government. The letter notes that the government believes the money will ultimately be recovered from “responsible parties” and deposited into the fund, but that just hasn’t happened yet. Thus, wrote Allen and Napolitano, there is an “urgent need” for Congress to allow them to tap into additional money within the trust fund.
So far, the money has been used to pay for the responders from the National Guard, Department of Defense, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Interior, and the Department of Agriculture. In the letter, they warn that “depleting all currently available funds puts at risk the Nation’s ability to address any new spills unrelated to BP/Deepwater Horizon.”
Sure, Congress could act to make more money available, and it probably will. More importantly though, BP should start paying up what it owes the federal government. After all, that $93 million just happens to be exactly the same amount of money the oil giant reaps in profits in a single day.