The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release
Contact: Email:,info(at)fwwatch(dot)org,Seth Gladstone -,

Americans Overwhelmingly Support Eliminating Cap on Oil Company Damages from Oil Spills

8 in 10 Americans Want BP and Others to Pay Full Damages


Americans are ready for BP to pick up the tab for spill-related
damages in the Gulf of Mexico, and a majority also think the U.S.
Minerals Management Service is too broken to effectively do its job,
according to a new poll released today by Food & Water Watch.

Eighty-two percent of registered voters polled support removing the
current federal cap on oil company liability following a spill, and
over half--54 percent--support the creation of an entirely new agency to
regulate the oil and gas industries. Conducted by Lake Research
Partners, the survey interviewed 1,000 adults living in the United
States from June 10 to June 13. Participants who supported these
reforms comprised a range of political leanings, ages, geographic
locations, incomes, and levels of education.

"The public is clearly ready for BP to pay for the mess it caused in
the Gulf," said Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah
Hauter. "Corporations such as BP have been given free reign by the MMS
to write their own rules, and a majority of Americans are ready to kick
the agency to the curb and start all over again."

For over a year, Food & Water Watch has worked to publicize
safety problems on the BP Atlantis, a deep-water drilling operation in
the Gulf of Mexico. Since the recent spill, the organization has been
advocating the following remedies to protect against another, even
worse spill:

  • Immediately closing BP's Atlantis project as well as its estimated
    17 other deepwater drilling production operations in the Gulf of Mexico
    until an independent third party has proven that they are operating
    with complete sets of engineer-approved drawings for their above and
    below-sea components, as required by law.
  • Inspecting the more than 141 deepwater oil producing projects
    operating in the Gulf of Mexico for complete engineer-approved
  • Debarring BP from any future contracts with the federal government.
  • Removing the new bureau of Safety and Environment Enforcement from
    the auspices of the U.S. Mineral Management Service (MMS) and reforming
    it as an independent agency organized to protect worker safety and
    marine environments.
  • Eliminating the liability cap on damages paid by oil companies.
  • Evaluating EPA's National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution
    Contingency Plan regulations and statutes, including the process by
    which dispersants such as COREXIT9500A are allowed to be used.
  • Ensuring that the recently announced Presidential Commission, which
    is investigating everything from the causes of the spill to the safety
    of offshore oil drilling and the functioning of government agencies
    that oversee drilling, remains independent of industry influence.

Separate pieces of legislation introduced by Senator Robert Menendez
(D-NJ) and Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) to eliminate the liability cap are
currently moving through both houses of Congress.


Survey participants were asked:

As you know, the current federal law limits the amount of
responsibility oil companies have for the damages they cause. Would you
favor or oppose Congress eliminating the cap so oil companies must pay
for ALL the damages they cause following an oil spill?

Strongly favor-68%
Somewhat favor-14%
Somewhat oppose-5%
Strongly oppose-11%
Don't know-3%


Do you agree or disagree with the following statement: The
government agency responsible for regulating the petroleum industry,
the Mineral Management Service, is too broken to be effective to do its
job. We need a new agency to regulate oil and gas, that has the best
interests of citizens in mind rather than the oil and gas corporations.
Do you agree or disagree or are you not sure?

Strongly agree-43%
Somewhat agree-11%
Somewhat disagree-4%
Strongly disagree-8%
Don't know-34%


Food & Water Watch mobilizes regular people to build political power to move bold and uncompromised solutions to the most pressing food, water, and climate problems of our time. We work to protect people's health, communities, and democracy from the growing destructive power of the most powerful economic interests.

(202) 683-2500