May 12th, 2010
09:43 PM ET

White House proposes more funding to bolster oil spill relief

President Barack Obama on Wednesday proposed a package of measures that would provide $118 million in additional funding for oil spill relief efforts and raise the tax that oil companies pay to maintain an emergency fund.

In a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi requesting congressional approval of the package, Obama said oil giant BP - which owns the leaking well at the source of the Gulf of Mexico spill - was responsible for all clean-up costs. In addition, Obama said, the government would seek full compensation for all damages from BP.

"We cannot allow the potentially protracted pursuit of claims to prevent us from swift action to help those harmed by this spill," Obama said in the letter.

Jeff Liebman, the acting deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget, said the package called for an additional $118 million in spending.

"We expect that the overall majority of that would end up being reimbursed by BP," Liebman said.

A statement posted on the White House website said the package included steps to bolster the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund, an emergency fund created by money from oil companies. The proposals also would fund expanded relief efforts for the oil spill, according to the statement from White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs.

The proposals would increase by 1 cent the current tax of 8 cents a barrel that oil companies pay into the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund, and also increase the amounts that could be spent from that fund on single incidents.

In addition, the proposals would increase the amount responsible parties have to pay for oil spills. The statement from Gibbs provided no figures, but some legislators have proposed raising the cap on damage liability from the current $75 million to $10 billion.

Other provisions of the package include:

– allowing the Coast Guard to draw one or more advances of up to $100 million from the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund to cover its expenses in responding to the Gulf oil spill;

– providing $2 million to the Food and Drug Administration to monitor and respond to the environmental impact of the oil spill on seafood from the Gulf;

– providing $29 million for Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to conduct any necessary additional inspections, studies and enforcement activities outside what is covered by the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund;

– providing $2 million to the Environmental Protection Agency and $5 million to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for environmental studies that bolster the federal response to the spill;

– expanding and speeding up systems for providing federal relief to affected areas;

– providing $5 million for the Economic Development Administration's Economic Adjustment Assistance program that awards grants to state, local, and non-profit organizations in the affected region for strategic planning and technical assistance;

– providing $15 million to cover losses by fishermen in the event that the fisheries are declared disaster areas.

Other spending would include strengthening the ability of existing relief and compensation programs to deliver immediate help, according to the statement by Gibbs.

"The legislation includes unemployment assistance, food and nutrition assistance, and help for those affected by the spill to find work, aid to fisheries and fishermen who have been severely impacted by the spill, funding to increase inspection of fish and seafood to protect the safety of the food we eat, and the establishment of one-stop shops for those in need of aid," said Carol Browner, Obama's assistant for energy and climate change.

"The bill also provides funding for additional inspections and enforcement of safety regulations on other offshore platforms; and comprehensive evaluations of new policies, procedures and actions needed in light of this incident," Browner said.

Liebman noted that the White House package joins other measures already proposed in the House and Senate, and he called for speedy action to complete and pass the legislation.

"This needs passing as soon as possible so that we can get the tools in place to take care of the folks in the Gulf," Liebman said.

– CNN's Ed Henry and Tom Cohen contributed to this report

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Filed under: Barack Obama • Environment • Gulf Coast Oil Spill
soundoff (27 Responses)
  1. Willie Hightower

    Americans we need to help with Soultions instead of pointing fingers my friends.To all the men and women who are volunteering and working to help clean and save our nation. "THANKS ALOT".

    May 13, 2010 at 5:32 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Shane

    This is getting entertaining. Its another BAILOUT from our President.

    Wall Street Bailout
    Auto Manufacturer Bailout
    Economy Bailout
    Haiti Bailout
    Pakistan Bailout
    Afganistan Bailout
    Banking Bailout
    Health Care Bailout

    Now its going to be:

    The Big Oil Blowout Bailout!

    I have a great idea Washington D.C.

    Why don't you quit bailing out all of this crap, and give your citizens a helping hand?

    Oh yeah, that makes too much common sense!

    Thanks to Washington D.C. all of us can once again rest easy with Uncle Sam's Broom Stick shoved up...

    Well you get it!

    May 14, 2010 at 5:36 am | Report abuse | Reply
  3. W. DAVID STEPHENSON

    The more we learn about the BP spill (especially that they may have radically underestimated the size of the leak, the more I'm convinced we need real-time regulation, where government agencies would have automatic access to the exact same information the company does. Fortunately, using a system called XBRL to "tag" this data would not only make it feasible, but would actually help the companies improve t heir operating efficiency.

    May 14, 2010 at 7:41 am | Report abuse | Reply
  4. James

    If they can insert a tube into the pipe pouring oil into the Gulf, why can't they insert explosives deep into it and blow it up to stop the oil flow? I think this would be a more viable option than shooting old tires and golf balls into it to stop the flow of oil into the Gulf. Let the ocean floor cave in around it to stop the flow.

    May 14, 2010 at 9:19 am | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Janny

    I heard the COO of BP this morning on the radio as he skirted issue after issue regarding how this oil spill occurred and what is being done to stop it. At one point, he said that what the people want from him is that he work to get the spill stopped. Yes, we want that. But we also want accountability. We want transparency. And we want an explanation as to why this company thought they were above following rules and regulations that were put in place to protect the environment. I would love to know why none of their fail-safe measures actually worked when it came time for them to avert a disaster.

    My biggest question for BP is why they did not have measures in place before this accident occurred, and I"m talking about measures they KNEW would work, not ideas they thought might work. This is too big of a situation for 'might' and 'maybe.' It's time for their daily science experiments to stop. We don't have time to play around while they throw every Hail Mary pass in the book at this leak, hoping against hope that one of them will accidentally work.

    I would also love for BP to stop telling the people that they will complete the next attempt at stopping the leak in days or in a week. They need to be responsive, and they need to do it today. Stop skirting the issues and placing blame, BP, and clean up your mess today.

    May 14, 2010 at 9:25 am | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Lucy

    Mankind is such a strange combo of intelligence and colossal stupidity. Medicine is fabulous, but things like Katrina, the debt and the oil spill are like inmates running the asylum. Now we are supposed to pay more to fix the spill? Let BP pay for all of it and stop drilling in the ocean. Thank God, we are not building more nuclear power plants run by more idiots.

    May 15, 2010 at 12:31 am | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Craig N. Barthelmas

    Subject: PRO-ACTIVE OIL SPILL CONTINGENCY PLAN, Dated: Wed, 5 May, 2010

    TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN; We will make this statement brief since we know that no one to date has been listening.

    1. We found a pre-processed material and developed an action plan that would have extracted up to 95% of the oil spill contaminants from the surface waters of the Gulf of Mexico, before it hit land fall.
    2. Our product was a, “Modified Oil Spill Environmental Sponge” dubbed M.O.S.E.S., it is a ¼” to ½” product that could be used to absorb oil contaminants from both “fresh water and salt water” surface oil spills. Our tests have concluded that one ton of product will absorb 125 gallons of oil in less than one hour. Simply put it will absorb approximately one half of its weight in oil. M.O.S.E.S. collects/absorbs oil not water. After saturation M.O.S.E.S. will only contain about 1.4% water. It creates no added impact on marine life or the environment. It also poses no threat to other kinds of wildlife including humans. A fifteen minute test would have proven this process.
    3. Our plan was full circle and would have included staging, seeding, re-claiming and re-processing all of the contaminated oil’s and seed materials back into re-usable fuels and commodities.
    4. Due to the urgencies to reduce the impact on the environment and the magnitude of this spill, our plan would require partnering with the Coast Guard and other organizations that were already being used to provide staging, seeding and reclaim operations.
    5. Seeding operations would have been handled in essentially the same way they were being done, with minor and/or no modifications to airborne or aquatic equipment that would handle spreading ¼” to ½” particulates.
    6. Re-claim operations required the same booms, scoops, pumps and barge operations, that were being used.
    7. Re-processing operations proposed a permanent emissions free plant for processing oil, sand and other like materials into re-usable fuels and commodities. The plant would take approximately ninety to one hundred and fifty days to construct and would become a permanent part of the states fast action response to future oil spills.
    8. Our plan would have first, assisted with the on-going damage control operations in the gulf; second, it could have been put into operation within seven days; third, it would have become a $30,000,000.00 per year financial benefit to the communities that embraced staging and plant processing operations.
    9. This plan would have greatly reduced the time and costs associated with this kind of oil spill in the future. We are confident that this type of pro-active plan would have become a template for other high risk (oceanic) areas.
    So, why was this plan given no consideration at all? It is not a question of if another spill will happen but when. The only excuses we have been able to come up with that, we are sure you are going to here are, as follows:
    a. BP the News Network and Government Agencies didn’t have the time to consider a pro-active long term plan?
    b. “We are all crack pots” when, this technology is patented and the product could be tested in fifteen minutes?
    c. “BP has it under control as they have done this before?” We think, crazy is doing the same things over and over again expecting different results! We need to get past these smoke screens and prepare for the future.
    Thank you for your time and consideration. We would love to receive some constructive input.
    Craig N. Barthelmas, Cell: [313] 682-1428, E-Mail: GE1RE22@aol.com
    CC: BP., CNN, FOX 2, NOAA, Governors of: AL., FL., LA., MS., And TX.

    May 15, 2010 at 11:55 am | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Craig N. Barthelmas

    ATTENTION!!!! Comment number 32 above will not plug the oil leak, but it will address four major problems; two of them are concerns that are not being addressed.

    1. It is truly a LONG TERM PRO-ACTIVE OIL SPILL CONTINGENCY PLAN.

    2. It creates no added impact on marine life or the environment. It also poses no threat to humans or other forms of wildlife.

    3. It will add a $30,000,000.00 per year revenue generator to communities that embrace staging and plant processing operations.

    4. It will also add 40 new jobs to the community. It is not only a plan that helps in short term clean up's, but it has a positive long term effect as well.

    We all know that BP is feeding us misinformation and then trying to mobilize our volenteers to minimize their cost. This technology is patented and M.O.S.E.S. can be tested in fifteen minutes!

    As always, our government seeks short term quickies so we can get long term sc***ed! What do you think? GE1RE22@aol.com

    May 15, 2010 at 9:39 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Philip Tortora

    As this environmental disaster of epic proportions drags on – with the dire consequences yet to be fully determined and realized – the U.S. government needs to take a more urgent and heavy-handed approach to the clean up. And not publicly designate a company already being accused by many as grossly negligent and incompetent as the primary organization responsible for saving the environment.

    Sure, some of this is posturing and our government is letting BP know it has a lot of liability in the matter.

    But this oil spill has already spun way too far out of control, and it’s starting to seem like nobody knows what to do or how to stop it.

    http://philiptortora.blogspot.com/2010/05/shouldnt-us-government-have-more.html

    May 16, 2010 at 6:53 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  10. walter gatan

    Subject: HYDROCARBON DIGESTER

    To Whom It May Concern: There is a product made in Australia and have been proven to have worked effectively for this type situation on Gulf coast oil spill situation. This is a liquid containing bacterial enzymes which attacks and breaks down petrochemical waste, It can be used on fuel, oil and lubricant spills on water and land. This is a safe and natural product. Hydrocarb has been specially formulated as concentrated organic and non-toxic product for use in the fuel, motor vehicle and similar industries where the breakdown of waste petrochemicals is required. It eliminates the contaminants and the bad odors they cause, Hydrocard itselt is completely biodegradable. Because of its concentrated nature Hydrocarb is highly cost effective and contains no harmful ingredients-either for the user or for the environment. Hydrocarb works organically to absorb and remove dangerous petrochemical waste.
    We have effortlessly contacted the upper echelon of BP regarding this product, it eventually been put aside just as the rest other environmental products that would help improve the clean up effort in all the states affected by this disaster.
    All we want for Your Earth Pacific company is to help the American people preserve their natural resources before it gets worse in helping preserving our environment at all cost.

    I think that all the state concerned should not wait for BP to act on cleaning up their mess, but they should act know and finding the solutions themselves since congress is giving money for this magnitude crisis.

    Call me at 671-482-6997 or email me 24/7
    Mother Earth is waiting for clean up before she does her own.

    May 16, 2010 at 7:54 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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