Feds Raise Limits on Liability for Offshore Oil Spills

Leaking platform in East Bay
Leaking platform in East Bay, Louisiana, Sept. 2013.

Yesterday, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) used its administrative authority to raise the liability cap for offshore oil spill related damages from $75 million to $134 million. This increase, which was based on the pace of inflation, was the maximum amount allowed under the law.

By using its legal power to raise the liability cap, BOEM has taken an important step to help make sure that offshore facilities that violate the law, pollute our environment and harm our economy are held financially accountable for their damages.

However, as the BP drilling disaster so clearly demonstrated, a massive oil spill can easily lead to billions upon billions of dollars in damages to our coastal economy and environment. In its final report, the bipartisan National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill called on Congress to significantly increase liability caps for offshore facilities, yet this recommendation has been ignored. BOEM has taken action and now it’s time for Congress to step up too.

Cyn Sarthou is GRN's Executive Director.