WASHINGTON, DC – Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Ranking Member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, along with Senators Larry Craig (R-ID) and John Thune (R-SD), today introduced legislation to provide accountability to expenditure of funds through the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund (OSLTF). The bill introduced today is similar to the bill the Senate EPW Committee passed out of Committee in the109th Congress by voice vote on May 23, 2006.
“My legislation is critical to bringing accountability to the OSLTF fund,” Senator Inhofe said. “Given the large amount of money in the fund, I believe there must be better accounting for how the money in the fund is allocated and spent.”
The Energy Policy Act of 2005 reinstated the five cent tax on each barrel of oil imported to or produced in this U.S. The original tax expired in 1995 when it reached $1 billion. The current tax will sunset in 2014 or when the balance on the fund reaches $2.7 billion. The National Pollutions Funds Center, which administers the Fund, estimates that the fund will reach $1 billion by 2014.
The Fund consists of two components, the Emergency Fund and the Principal Fund. The Principal Fund’s two primary expenses include claims by any person or entity that has incurred removal costs or damages from an oil spill as well as appropriations to the federal agencies, five of which receive money from the Fund and the Denali Commission and the Prince William Sound Oil Spill Recovery Institute. The Emergency Fund is authorized each year and makes $50 million available to the President to respond to spills without Congressional appropriation. Further, the Emergency Fund is used by the federal trustees to initiate natural resource damage assessments.