The House Environment and Natural Resources Committee passed a bill that would remove the damage liability cap on oil spills and on any other material deemed hazardous. Under federal law companies don’t have to pay more than 75 million dollars for damages from a spill. But the House bill would override that and committee staff said the state could do that.
Republican Pat McElraft represents coastal counties. She worried removing the cap would chase oil companies away from the state, which could receive revenue from offshore rigs. She also said the prospect of paying higher damages costs could have economic consequences for the ports. Democrat Pryor Gibson said it was “too much, too fast” and could affect tankers used by Marines for fuel.
Several environmental groups back the bill but bill sponsor Democrat Pricie Harrison admitted industry representatives did not have input but said their views would eventually be heard as the bill moved along. The bill goes to the House Judiciary I committee next. A similar bill is in a Senate budget committee.