During the president's 20-minute address
to the nation Tuesday, he vowed to set up a BP-stocked fund to pay out damages to oil spill victims. The escrow fund
would directly compensate people such as fishermen and tourism industry
workers whose businesses have been damaged by the oil. Is this the best way to right
- The Oil Fund Is Crucial, writes Patrick Caldwell at the
Minnesota Independent: "Full details of how the escrow account would be
operated are pending, but early reports describe the account as one run
by an independent panel, and it is intended to hold BP liable for all
damages accrued due to the oil spill. The account’s funds will go toward
paying for both cleanup efforts and damages for individuals such as
Gulf Coast fishermen whose livelihoods have been damaged by the sudden
toxicity in the ocean and beaches. In effect, the fund will prevent the
government (and by extension, American taxpayers) from being fiscally
responsible for BP’s actions."
- No, It Threatens
the Rule of Law, writes the Wall Street Journal editorial board: "The BP oil
spill is already a calamity for the Gulf Coast ecosystem and economy,
but now that Washington is looking to deflect all political blame it
could also became a disaster for the rule of law... The White House
knows it has no legal authority to demand such a corporate ATM card, but
it is counting on public anger to coerce BP to go along."
to Punish BP? Revamp Our Whole Energy Sector, writes Daniel Gross at Newsweek. He scolds
the president for not talking about this in his speech: "There was
little mention of tough, controversial, but necessary initiatives such
as placing a price on carbon, or sharply raising the tax on gasoline, or
instituting a cap-and-trade regime. Obama's speech was like a
PowerPoint presentation with the last few slides missing."
Fines Should Also Fund a Foundation, writes Matt Petersen at The Huffington
Post: "Mr. President, in addition to demanding BP put billions of
dollars into escrow to pay for restoration, require BP to deposit $2.5
billion into an independent foundation as part of the fines the Justice
Department needs to make them pay. The foundation would fund
environmental, conservation, and clean energy initiatives along the Gulf
Coast. There is a dearth of grant makers -- and hence, environmental
organizations -- that are actually located along the Gulf Coast and/or
that fund groups located there. We need to change that."
Need a New Legal Strategy for Holding Companies Accountable, writes
Richard Epstein at The Wall
Street Journal: "The best way to deter future spills is to expose
drillers to the full costs of any mistake and not let any company
without proper insurance near an oil derrick...A tough liability system
does more than provide compensation for serious harms after the fact. It
also sorts out the wheat from the chaff—so that in this case companies
with weak safety profiles don't get within a mile of an oil derrick.
Solid insurance underwriting is likely to do a better job in pricing
risk than any program of direct government oversight. Only strong
players, highly incentivized and fully bonded, need apply for a permit
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