May 5th, 2010
02:14 PM ET

White House backs lifting liability limit for oil spills

The Obama administration supports increasing how much companies responsible for oil spills have to pay in damages, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Wednesday.

Current law requires companies to pay all costs of cleaning up the spill, but limits the liability on damages - such as economic loss - to $75 million.

Asked by reporters about pending legislation that would increase the damages limit, Gibbs said the White House supported the idea. However, he refused to provide a specific ceiling figure.

"We would be in favor of lifting that cap," Gibbs said, noting the current limit comes from legislation dating back 20 years.

A bill being introduced in Congress proposes lifting the cap on economic damages to $10 billion, and making the change retroactive to include the current Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Despite the current cap, Gibbs said that oil giant BP, which owns the leaking Gulf well, will be responsible for paying all clean-up costs and damages.

soundoff (15 Responses)
  1. jjh

    read for detailed news. Agree with no liability limit for a spill this major.

    May 5, 2010 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse |
  2. John Smith

    Typical Obama to not respect the law and make this change retractive, thereby invalidating all BP's risk management . It also invalidates all future risk management because who knows when they'll change the law again and make it retroactive yet again. Suppose they change it to a $5B cap now. Oil companies won't be able to make risk calculations based on $5B because if there is another spill the government could simply change it again, retroactively to whatever they want. How can businesses operate under such uncertainty?

    May 5, 2010 at 7:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Evan

      If BP or any company create an economic disaster, and economic hardship to the area they should pay the entire cost of the cleanup. It is there mess and they should pay for it. Why should I pay for someone else's mismangement of a oil spill. Aren't there established procedures in place. If the bill is $50 billion, then BP should pay for every penny to cleanup every ounce of oil, including fines to any Saudi Arabian partners that are liable. They get the profits but never have to contribute to the infrasturce. HEy, Sarah, do you still want ot expand oil exploration in Alaska, aren't we a bit quiet about it, no Obama does not want to talk to you, you are out of touch with reality.

      June 11, 2010 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Max Tinglewood

    I feel at peace with the thought of BP not having a business.

    May 5, 2010 at 9:22 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Julian

    Perhaps removing the cap entirely would be in order. No maximum liability.

    May 6, 2010 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
  5. SKG

    Typical moron to think that someone shouldn't be wholly and completely responsible for any mess that individual might make. Especially when that mess is catastrophic damages done to an irreplaceable PUBLIC good such as OUR PLANET.

    If we are foolish enough to let these companies play this game of roulette with our planet, and oil companies are foolish enough to think that they can win at this game, they are therefore necessarily responsible for any and all outcomes.

    A cap should not exist at all. If your equipment malfunctions, and you destroy a piece of our invaluable planet, you should be wholly responsible for all costs and repercussions involved in cleaning up and repairing that damage.

    May 6, 2010 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse |
  6. BTR

    We are all responsible, not just oil companies. If you drive a car and use anything that is plastic for example, you are generating the demand that the oil companies are filling by finding more sources for oil and going to new depths to drill for it which has greater risks for oil spills. It is easy to point a finger to one source or one company, however we all share in it. Start thinking about what we can do as consumers to eleviate demand, then you will start to see true impact and care for our planet.

    May 6, 2010 at 5:32 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Haris

    I would like to know the exact date the oil will stop gushing completely.

    May 7, 2010 at 9:52 am | Report abuse |
  8. Tad

    The oil companies are limited to 75Mil repartions over and above cleanup becuse they all contribute .08 a barrel into a Oil Spill Distater relief fund. This fund's current balance is 1 billion USD. coupled with the 75 mil that BP will have to kick in over and above the cleanup costs ..there curently is 1.75 billion avaiable for reparations for loss of pesonal and business income. will this be enough ..probably not . who do you tink pays for it in the end anyway .?. consumers

    You can best bet every ambulance chaser lawyer in the gulf coast area knows about this fund as well.

    May 7, 2010 at 11:26 am | Report abuse |
  9. sycodad


    May 8, 2010 at 12:21 am | Report abuse |
  10. Chuck Youngblood

    The only cap I support is the amount of profit the oil companies can make by finding and selling the oil that should rightfully belong to all Americans. It is time the US government start taking a large percent of oil revenues and apply it to our the national debt. This would benefit all Americans. In addition, a portion of the oil found could be allocated to ensure our national reserve stockpiles remain at maximim capacity.

    May 8, 2010 at 5:52 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Teresa

    i still think Obama is still not doing enough we should be out of the dark age's of greasy toxic oil.
    try to solve that OBAMA !!!!!!!!!!!!

    May 11, 2010 at 5:37 am | Report abuse |
  12. Teresa

    u can't because your to busy visiting America putting on FAKE press conferences

    May 11, 2010 at 5:39 am | Report abuse |
  13. Teresa

    I think our government can't say good bye to oil because they have their hands in the pockets of s Major company's like B.P ..........

    May 11, 2010 at 5:43 am | Report abuse |
  14. Devon James

    Here is my idea on how to plug the oil leak immediately: insert an uninflated balloon with a durable material with a weight on it to keep it inside, then inflate it with air. That should work! good luck.

    May 13, 2010 at 2:22 am | Report abuse |