Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar have written the following letter to British Petroleum demanding clarification of whether the company intends to cover damages above its $75 million cap. Thanks to Paul Brandus of the West Wing Report (@WestWingReport) for forwarding a copy.
In a paragraph toward the end of the letter (pictured below), the Administration seeks confirmation that BP is responsible for all claims and not the taxpayers, U.S. government or Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund:
"Based on these statements, we understand that BP will not in any way seek to rely on the potential $75 million statutory cap to refuse to provide compensation to any individuals or others harmed by the oil spill, even if more than $75 million is required to provide full compensation to all claimants, and BP will not seek reimbursement from the American taxpayers, the United States Government, or the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund for any amount."
Dr. Anthony Hayward
Group Chief Executive BP 1 St. James's Square London SW1Y 4PD
Dear Dr. Hayward
The BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill may prove to be one of the most devastating environmental disasters this nation has ever faced. As one of the responsible parties for this event, BP is accountable to the American public for the full clean up of this spill and all the economic loss caused by the spill and related events.
We recognize that, to date, BP has undertaken to promptly pay the damages associated with the Deepwater Horizon events, in addition to all removal costs. In an interview with Reuters on April 30, 2010, you stated that, "We are taking full responsibility for the spill and we will clean it up, and where people can present legitimate claims for damages we will honor them. We are going to be very, very aggressive in all of that."
Mr. Lamar McKay, Chairman and President of BP America, in his May 11,2010 testimony before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, also acknowledged BP's responsibility for clean up and compensation associated with the oil spill: "[W]e are the responsible party. Our obligation is to deal with the spill, clean it up and make sure the impacts of that spill are compensated and wc are going to do that." Mr. McKay further noted in his testimony, "BP will pay all necessary clean up costs and is committed to paying legitimate claims for other loss and damages caused by the spill." Finally, we note that Mr. McKay in his Senate testimony also agreed that BP will pay all claims even if they exceed what he described as an "irrelevant" statutory cap of $75 million per incident.
On May 10, 2010, BP reiterated this point in a letter from its U.S. General Counsel, John E. Lynch, Jr., to the Attorneys General of the five Gulf Coast states: "[I]t is BP's position that the cap on liability under the Oil Pollution Act is not relevant; BP will pay necessary clean up costs associated with the spill and legitimate claims for other loss and damage."
Based on these statements, we understand that BP will not in any way seek to rely on the potential $75 million statutory cap to refuse to provide compensation to any individuals or others harmed by the oil spill, even if more than $75 million is required to provide full compensation to all claimants, and BP will not seek reimbursement from the American taxpayers, the United States Government, or the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund for any amount.
The public has a right to a clear understanding of BP's commitment to redress all of the damage that has occurred or that will occur in the future as a result of the oil spill. Therefore, in the event that our understanding is inaccurate, we request immediate public clarification of BP's true intentions.
Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.
Secretary of Homeland Security
Secretary of the Interior
cc: Lamar McKay, Chairman and President, BP America