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Since the Deepwater Horizon exploded and oil began gushing in the Gulf, Senate Democrats have tried repeatedly, under unanimous consent agreements, to move legislation to lift the $75 million cap on oil companies' liability for economic damages caused by spills and gushers. Each time they tried, they were blocked by Republicans who argue that raising the liability cap would discourage competition in the offshore oil-drilling industry.

So the Democrats are moving forward with plan two -- advancing the bill under regular order, through the committee process to the Senate floor. The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee passed the bill today, and they added a major strengthening amendment that will make the Republicans who objected to the original bill like it even less.

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Last week, 14 Democrats introduced a bill called the Big Oil Bailout Prevention Liability Act of 2010 to raise the current $75 million cap on economic damages caused by oil spills to $10 billion in order to ensure that BP is paying for the impact the spill is and will continue to have on the Gulf coast economy, not the business owners and taxpayers.

The bill's sponsors today put forth a unanimous consent request to pass the bill. But one senator, Lisa Murkowski [R, AK], objected. “Taking the liability cap from $75 million dollars to $10 billion dollars… 133 times the current strict liability limit, isn’t where we need to be right now,” Murkowski said on the Senate floor.

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American Power and Offshore Drilling

May 12, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

Sen. John Kerry [D, MA] and Sen. Joseph Lieber man [I, CT] today unveiled details of their long-awaited American Power Act, which is a comprehensive bill designed to deal with the issues of climate change and energy independence. It's a draft right now, so we don't have it up on OpenCongress. As soon as we do, we'll be doing some more deep analysis of its provisions. But for now, it wanted to pass along some info on what the bill proposes for the energy topic du jour -- offshore drilling.

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