US House makes minor change to oil spill law


By the OGJ Online Staff


WASHINGTON, DC, Mar. 23�The US Coast Guard will be allowed to borrow up to $100 million from the Oil Spill Liability fund for additional emergency cleanups under legislation passed by the US House of Representatives Mar. 22.

The 1990 Oil Pollution Act, passed following the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill, created the $1 billion fund through a 5�/bbl tax.

Rep. Don Young (R-Alas.) filed the bill, The Coast Guard Personnel and Maritime Safety Act of 2001 (H.R. 1099). It would let the Coast Guard borrow from the fund �for removal of a discharge or the mitigation or prevention of a substantial threat of a discharge.�

If the Coast Guard elects to take money from the fund, it would have to notify Congress within 30 days why it needed the money, how much it spent, and when the funds would be repaid.

Young�s plan sets no deadlines on when the money must be returned to the fund. However the Coast Guard would be expected to recover money from the parties held liable for the incident.

Young�s proposal would allow the Coast Guard to react quicker and more efficiently to spills, bill supporters say. Opponents of the measure argue there should be a set deadline for the money to be repaid. Otherwise, there is a danger the fund could go bankrupt.

The bill has been sent to the US Senate and was referred to the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. No hearings have been scheduled yet.

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