The White House backs raising the damages cap for oil spills and intends to "aggressively pursue" British Petroleum for the costs associated with the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, a senior White House official said Tuesday.
"So let's be clear about a few things. BP is responsible for -- and will be held accountable for -- all of the very significant clean-up and containment costs," White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer said today on his blog.
BP must also be held responsible for the damages and the Obama administration "strongly supports" efforts on Capitol Hill to raise the liability cap significantly above $75 million, which is under the Oil Pollution Act.
Three Democratic Sens. Bob Menendez (N.J.), Frank Lautenberg (N.J.) and Bill Nelson (Fla.) have introduced a stand-alone bill that would raise the cap to $10 billion. The White House is suggesting raising the caps within the context of a comprehensive energy bill that would "help move us to a clean energy future."
Changing the law "so that its cap does not limit our ability to collect damages would increase our chances of collecting adequate compensation," Pfeiffer wrote.
There is no cap for damages if BP is found grossly negligent, engaged in willful misconduct or has is found in violation of federal regulations. The White House is looking into what fines or damages could be applicable to the spill and BP under other federal and state laws.
"This crisis is very much unfolding so it will take time to determine what caused this spill and the extent of the damage that can be claimed under this one law," Pfeiffer wrote.