Begich says oil-spill liability proposal en route

Begich and Landrieu last year pushed the idea of lifting the cap, by creating a multi-billion-dollar shared industry insurance fund that oil companies could draw upon in the event of a spill. They circulated separate but similar proposals (see our posts here and here).

Begich said Tuesday that he met with Landrieu last week and that staff discussions continue this week. “We’re hopeful. I think we’re going to get to an agreement,” Begich said.

Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) — who unlike Landrieu and Begich is an offshore drilling opponent — is again pushing legislation to simply eliminate the cap.

But Begich said he’s hopeful about finding common ground, noting that his plan shares the goal of “making sure the taxpayers are never on the hook for anything.”

Begich also said the measure he’s crafting with Landrieu would seek to ensure that industry fines for offshore spills are funneled back to the affected region.

Landrieu last year proposed steering 80 percent of the Clean Water Act penalties from the BP spill to the Gulf Coast for economic and environmental restoration.