May 17, 2010

Looks like Mitch McConnell is channeling his buddy Lisa Murkowski on lifting the $75 million cap on damages for the oil companies. So let's see if we can follow Mitch McConnell's logic here. He doesn't want anyone to be able to sue the oil companies for more than $75 million in damages because it might put some of the smaller oil companies out of business. I would assume lifting that cap would only put them out of business if they actually they did more than $75 million worth of damage. So I guess that means McConnell would like for small companies to be allowed to do more damage than they can afford to pay for, because putting an unsafe company that did that much damage out of business would be worse than... allowing them to do more damage than they are capable of paying for. The mind reels.

GREGORY: Let me turn to the issue of the BP oil spill, which the president was quite angry about after the appearance by CEOs on Capitol Hill this past week, including the CEO of BP. You heard Senator Schumer say there ought to be more effort on the part of the government to look over the shoulders of the oil companies. What do you say?

McCONNELL: Well, look, we're all angry about it. This is a--an environmental disaster of gargantuan proportions, but the president's spent a whole lot of time pointing the finger at, at BP--and you should point the finger at BP and the other companies involved in it. We're also interested in knowing what the administration did. Was the Mineral Management Service a part of this administration that approved this site? It also approved this spill response plan. What kind of oversight did the administration provide during the course of the drilling? There are plenty of questions that need to be answered, and there'll be adequate time for that. But the administration's involvement in this will be a big part of the inquiry. In the meantime, we need to do everything we can to stop this spill.

GREGORY: What about the issue of legitimate claims, as BP said, that it will honor? Do you think that the cap for damages should be higher now, higher than $75 million, as you heard Senator Schumer say they would propose?

McCONNELL: Well, the danger in that, of course, is that if you raise the cap too high, there will be no competition in the Gulf and you'll leave all the business to the big guys like BP. What BP has said they need to be held to, which is they're going to pay for this. They ought to pay for it, and they will pay for it. But the danger of taking the cap too high is that you end up with only massive, very large oil producers able to meet that cap and produce in the Gulf. And look, we can't walk away--and the president's not suggesting this either--from offshore drilling. As horrible as this is, it's important to remember that we get 30 percent of our oil from the Gulf and, if you shut that down, you'd have $14 gasoline.

I'd also like to know where the Republicans were during the eight years of the Bush administration with their concern about MMS. I say investigate away, but they'd better be going back ten years and not just one for the causes of the problems within that department.

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