Posted by Matt Dempsey

Transcript of Inhofe Senate Floor Remarks on Menendez Liability Bill

Mr. INHOFE - Reserving the right to object, first let me say I agree with most of what the Senator from New Jersey is saying. He mentioned the profits of the top five oil companies--Shell, BP, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, and Chevron. They are the giants.

If we will recall, last week when I objected to the arbitrary figure, the cap of $10 billion, it was because it was arbitrary. I quoted a lot of people in the administration saying we do not want to have--it should not be an arbitrary cap. One of the complaints I had was, if you do have an arbitrary cap and that was at $10 billion, that would mean only the big five plus the national oil companies--Venezuela, China, certainly--would be in a position to do this work offshore.

It is my feeling if you take the $10 billion off and make it totally unlimited, that could very well shut out even the five and leave nothing but national oil companies in a position to be doing it.

I believe we should increase the cap. I know there is unanimity in that notion. We have to do it. The Secretary of Interior said this about the $10 billion cap:

[I]t is important that we be thoughtful relative to that, what that cap will be, because you don't want only the BP's of the world essentially to be the ones that are involved in these efforts.

I agree with 90 percent of what the Senator says, and with the Secretary of Interior, what he has said about this--that we need to determine how high that cap should be. It should be much higher. We have plenty of time to do that. Let me emphasize there is no cap in terms of the cleanup damages. We are only talking about economic damages here. There is no cap on cleanup damages. I think there should be. At some point we have to arrive at a cap. A lot of people are working on it. The administration is working on it, the Department of Interior is working on it, and we are working on it. I think we need to increase that. For that reason we need to have the time to get that done, and I do object.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?

Mr. INHOFE . I object.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Objection is heard.