By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
U.S. Representative Jo Bonner introduced legislation in the House on Friday to prevent companies that were involved in the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill from being able to deduct hundreds of millions of dollars in fines and compensation from their tax bill.
Congressman Bonner said that media reports have been rampant that the U.S. Justice Department and BP are close to a settlement on penalties that BP would pay for its involvement in the Gulf oil spill. Rep. Bonner said in his written column, “According to these reports, the Obama Justice Department is aggressively squeezing the five states of Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Texas and Louisiana into accepting a single, global settlement for violations of the Clean Water Act (CWA) and for the National Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA).”
Rep. Bonner said that if the settlement is structured to over represent damages under NRDA, then the RESTORE Act, passed by Congress and signed by President Obama on July 6, 2012, would be circumvented.
Rep. Bonner warned that a settlement that significantly overfunds the NRDA would effectively limit local control over how those fines are administered. That sort of global settlement would give the federal government and bureaucrats in Washington control of how the money could be spent and on what projects.
Rep. Bonner said, “In addition to the (12) deaths, residents in these five states remember all-too-well the disruption to our lives along the Gulf Coast, as well as the economic and environmental havoc that the oil had on our pristine coastal environment. While there are many troubling aspects to what the Justice Department is reportedly doing regarding this settlement, perhaps most egregious is the prospect that BP would somehow be allowed to profit from this disaster while the true victims of the oil spill, the people who live along the Gulf of Mexico, would once again be left high and dry. Clearly, there is no justice in this sordid saga.” “Obviously, there are many problems with the rumored settlement being negotiated during the political season. My question to Mr. Holder is simple: what’s the rush in getting a settlement agreed to before November 6th? If this is such a good deal for the residents of the Gulf Coast, then won’t it be just as good a deal on November 7th or beyond?”
Bonner’s bill would directly prohibit BP, or any other responsible party, from gaining any tax advantage for their role in the manmade disaster that polluted the Gulf and its beaches.
Bonner said that the fines could range from $5 billion to $20 billion. Bonner along with House and Senate colleagues from both parties has signed letters to General Holder and President Obama strongly opposing any agreement circumventing the RESTORE Act.
Congressmen Josiah “Jo” Bonner represents Alabama’s First Congressional District.