Oil patch Democrats oppose spill plan

The Hill:

House Democratic leaders are facing resistance from conservative and centrist members in the party over several provisions in oil spill response legislation that’s headed for a vote Friday, including the removal of liability caps on offshore oil and gas producers.

A group of about 30 oil-patch Democrats share the concerns of their Senate counterparts that removing the liability cap for future spills would price smaller independent companies out of the offshore drilling business. “That’s a big one,” said Rep. Gene Green (D-Texas), an ally of the industry.

Green told House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) Thursday that he was planning to vote against the bill over the liability language and a provision setting federal authority over wastewater from wells that states currently regulate. “I know a number of members that have said the same thing to her,” he said in the Capitol Thursday.

Some lawmakers have proposed fixing the problem by creating a spill fund that all oil companies would pay into, akin to the shared cost plan the nuclear industry uses to address potential accidents. Another idea, Green said, has been to double or triple the existing $75 million liability cap for producers, but make it unlimited if a company is found to be grossly negligent.

But it appears at the moment that the language may not change.

There is more.

Some of the opposition is over the responsibility for water runoff from wells on land. It should be noted that some of these guys, like Green, made the mistake of voting for the cap and trade bill earlier. They can't afford to cave on this one. At this point it looks like they maybe 10 short of being able to defeat the bill.

The Senate probably gives us the best chance of defeating the bill.


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