By Vicki Needham - 05/14/10 01:07 PM EDT
Production in the Gulf represents 30 percent of all U.S. crude oil production, according to Gerard.
Existing law holds companies like British Petroleum accountable for paying all costs associated with the spill and up to $75 million in economic damages. Those caps are waived in instances of gross negligence, willful misconduct or violation of federal regulations, Gerard said. Businesses affected by the spill also can pursue damages in state court, which aren't limited by a cap, he said.
"Any necessary changes in the trust fund should be determined after there is a clear sense of the resource needs arising from this incident and should be thoughtfully considered with an opportunity for all stakeholders to be heard," Gerard said.
So far the spill has cost BP $450 million, according to a statement released Thursday.