Today, the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure passed H.R. 1684, the Foreign Spill Protection Act, introduced by U.S. Representatives Carlos Curbelo (FL-26) and Patrick E. Murphy (FL-18). In the event of an oil spill, the legislation would require the responsible party, regardless of origin, to pay for all American cleanup costs by applying the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA) to them. Furthermore, this bipartisan bill would apply the Clean Water Act penalties on the responsible foreign party.
"Like my fellow Floridians, I will never forget the damage and loss caused by the BP oil spill. We witnessed firsthand that when an oil spill occurs, it does not just devastate the coastlines but also the economy. To then have the costs of the clean-up efforts passed from the oil companies to taxpayers only adds insult to injury," said Rep. Murphy. "I thank my good friend and colleague Congressman Curbelo for his leadership on this issue and look forward to continuing to work together to keep this bill moving forward to put the people of Florida and our environment first."
“I thank my friend and fellow Florida colleague, Rep. Murphy for serving as an original co-sponsor," said Rep. Curbelo. "He has demonstrated continuous leadership for environmental issues and is a constant advocate for our South Florida constituents and coastal communities."
The premise of the OPA is that the party responsible for an oil spill is responsible for all cleanup costs. However, OPA only applies to spills that originate in American waters. If a spill were to occur off the coast of a foreign nation, and the oil reached American waters, the Oil Liability Trust Fund would pay $150 million for cleanup and up to $850 million for claims. The U.S. Attorney General has existing authority to seek compensation for the fund from the responsible party up to $1 billion. If the spill exceeds $1 billion, American taxpayers or affected states would have to pay the difference. For comparison, the Deepwater Horizon spill cost nearly $54 billion. The Foreign Spill Protection Act would amend the OPA to hold all responsible parties, including Foreign Offshore Units, liable for any removal costs or damages that occur as a result of an oil spill.