KTUU (NBC): Alaska's senators want to beef up U.S. spill liability fund

ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- Alaska's two U.S. senators want to beef up the nation's oil spill liability fund.

The fund is administered by the Coast Guard and pays for response costs and damages in cases where the responsible party hasn't paid.

The fund currently has $1.6 billion, but Sens. Mark Begich and Lisa Murkowski want to raise that to $10 billion by increasing the fee oil companies pay from 8 cents to 9 cents per barrel.

"It's not just about the Gulf of Mexico, it's any oil spill that may occur. And of course Alaska has the largest, three-quarters of the coastline of the United States. It has the highest potential for future oil and gas development, especially in the Arctic," Begich said.

"Whether it is in the Gulf of Mexico, or whether it is in the Chukchi Sea or the Beaufort, it's important that we have these mechanisms in place," Murkowski said.

Congress established the fund in 1986, but it wasn't activated until after the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill.

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Source: By Channel 2 News staff. Originally published May 06, 2010