BP Spends Top Dollar Lobbying, Campaigning

A group of Democrats aim to increase the monetary responsibility of oil companies. Oil companies are currently responsible for clean up and containing the spill, but they only have a small role in compensating ruined industries and lost livelihood.

New Jersey Democratic Senators Robert Mendez and Frank Lautenberg and Florida’s Bill Nelson introduced a measure that would increase the oil companies’ liability to impacted people and industries from the current limit of $75 million to $10 billion dollars.

That’s a figure that is likely going to be opposed by the oil companies. Based on their record of spending in Washington, they could hire hoards of lobbyists and line the pockets of political candidates to push against this, or any other measure, that would detract from their bottom line.

The oil and natural gas industry spent more than twice their current $75 million liability cap in lobbying in just one year, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. In 2009, the industry spent $170 million dollars lobbying. BP alone spent $15.9 million dollars lobbying Congress and federal agencies in 2009.

The power of persuasion does not stop there. The oil and gas industry has spent many pennies on campaign contributions, too. Since 1990, the industry has spent nearly $249 million dollars, most has gone to Republicans, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Since 1990, BP has spent $6.2 million dollars on political campaigns.

Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) said their wealth enables them to pay more in liabilities. “BP made $5.6 billion of profits in the last quarter alone. Exxon Mobile made $6.5 billion in profits in three months. I think they can be responsible for their actions,” Menendez said.

Menendez said the bill should be applied retroactively.

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