On June 8, and again today at a Senate hearing, Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND) said it is time to make BP's commitment to paying for the damage caused by its oil spill in the Gulf binding. Dorgan is the second ranking Democrat on the Senate Energy Committee and chairs a key energy appropriations subcommittee. In a release, Dorgan explained, "BP has consistently said it will provide the funding necessary to pay for the damages caused by the oil spill in the Gulf Coast. But when I asked the Justice Department, in a recent hearing, whether the BP pledge would be binding on the company the answer from the Justice Department was that it is not binding."
He said, "On this 50th day of the oil spill with the incalculable costs of the disaster still rising, I think it is time to nail down a binding commitment that BP will provide the full funding for the cleanup as well as the economic costs that have resulted from the oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico. I propose that the Justice Department enter into a formal arrangement with BP that would have them pay $10 billion into a Gulf Coast Recovery Fund that would be jointly managed and dispersed by a Special Master selected by the government and a Counselor selected by BP. . .
"BP has averaged $15 billion a year in profits over the past ten years. Asking them to make a payment of much less than one year's profits into a Gulf Coast Recovery Fund that will be jointly managed with public as well as private sector management will be a start to nailing down the commitment that I believe is necessary to respond to the growing costs of this disaster. Some estimate that the ultimate costs will far exceed the $10 billion that I propose be the first commitment from BP. If that is so, BP should be prepared to meet that as well. But for now, there needs to be more certainty to the BP pledge, and this approach is the first step in determining whether the BP pledge is going to be met in full. . ."
BP announced that as part of its commitment to restore the environment and habitats in the Gulf Coast region, it will donate the net revenue from oil recovered from the MC252 spill to create a new wildlife fund to create, restore, improve and protect wildlife habitat along the coastline of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida. The creation of this fund is over and above BP's obligations under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990. BP's net revenue from the sale of oil recovered from skimming operations and the well containment systems will be deposited into this newly-created fund. At this point, BP said it cannot predict the total of amount of net revenue that will be deposited into the wildlife fund. The amount of funding will be contingent upon the amount of oil collected during operations and the price at which the oil is sold. BP will provide regular updates on the amount of proceeds being deposited into the fund.