Matt Dempsey (202) 224-9797

David Lungren (202) 224-5642


Vows to Continue Seeking Bipartisan Compromise

Washington, D.C.-Sen. James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, issued the following statement today after the EPW Committee approved the Boxer legislation eliminating liability caps for offshore oil and gas producers.

"I remain disappointed that my offer of a reasonable compromise on liability caps was rejected by Democratic leaders-rejected, in fact, with no good-faith counteroffer, but with intemperate remarks to the press," Senator Inhofe said.  "Nevertheless, I will continue to seek a bipartisan solution, because I believe we are not far apart on this issue.  I believe that because of concerns expressed by Sen. Baucus today, as well as recent remarks by Interior Secretary Salazar and other Democrats from producing states.  They have reservations that reflect my own, which is that an injudicious decision to rashly remove caps could mean that the only producers left standing in the Gulf will be BP and Big Oil, as well China's state-owned oil company. 

"My alternative simply requires that the President consider setting caps based on certain risk factors, such as a company's safety record.  With this as a framework, I am willing to negotiate on liability levels.  My colleagues raised legitimate concerns this morning, including that a future President could lower caps established by a predecessor.  Again, if they have ideas on how to address this, I remain open to discussion.

"So the offer still stands: let's work together as Congress did in 1990 when it unanimously passed the Oil Pollution Act.  We can ensure that polluters pay, victims are made whole, and that the United States continues to have a robust domestic offshore energy industry that creates jobs and lessens our dependence on foreign oil."