Looks like it's going to be a busy weekend for BP's lawyers. Actually, every weekend for the foreseeable future is liable to be busy for them.
The Obama Administration on Saturday sent a letter to the energy giant seeking "clarification" for the company's position on reimbursing all legitimate claims related to the continuing oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
The administration can be forgiven if it's somewhat confused. For while the company has tried to communicate that it understands its responsibility and plans to make amends for the economic losses due to the oil spill, it's also given some mixed signals.
For instance, during a Senate hearing this week when Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) asked Lamar McKay, president and CEO of BP America if the company planned to reimburse local and state governments for lost tax revenue due to the spill, McKay demurred.
So Saturdays' letter is meant to force the company to publicly take a more unequivocal position, especially regarding the $75 million per incident cap under the Oil Pollution Act.
After citing statements by McKay and other company officials to the effect that the cap was "irrelevant", the letter from Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said, in part:
Based on these statements, we understand that BP will not in any way seek to rely on the potential $75 million statutory cap to refuse to provide compensation to any individuals or others harmed by the oil spill, even if more than $75 million is required to provide full compensation to all claimants, and BP will not seek reimbursement from the American taxpayers, the United States Government, or the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund for any amount.
The public has a right to a clear understanding ofBP's commitment to redress all of the damage that has occurred or that will occur in the future as a result of the oil spill. Therefore, in the event that our understanding is inaccurate, we request immediate public clarification ofBP's true intentions.