Sen. Murkowski Testifies on Her Bill to Improve Compensation Process for Gulf Victims

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, testified today at the request of Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., before the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee on how to improve the process of getting compensation to the victims of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Murkowski this week introduced legislation to streamline the claims process and ensure that those who desperately need help now get it in all haste.

"This bill allows those affected by the spill to recover damages without having to rely on lawyers for a decades-long legal fight like Alaskans experienced with the Exxon Valdez," Murkowski said.

The legislation would:

  • Establishes an administrator to quickly and fairly resolve claims for economic damages caused by this disaster; 
  • Establishes an Office of Deepwater Claims Compensation to provide expedited, fast and fair compensation on a no-fault basis to persons and state and local governments that have incurred damages from the Deepwater Horizon spill;
  • Residents and local governments of the Gulf region could either pursue their claims in court, or under this expedited claims process;
  • Provides for a claimant assistance program, including training for non-profit organizations and state and local government entities to provide additional assistance;
  • Establishes multiple resource centers in the Gulf Coast region, located in existing Federal offices, that can assist claimants with the preparation and filing of their claims;
  • Establishes an advisory committee on Deepwater Horizon compensation that will consist of representatives of claimants and responsible parties and persons with expertise in marine and coastal ecology, oil spill remediation, fisheries management and administering compensation programs;
  • Requires that the responsible parties pay the damages within 30 days of the award from the administrator.

"I believe this legislation will hold BP directly accountable and make sure there's an expedited path to recovery for the growing number of victims in the Gulf, particularly the individuals and small businesses that are already suffering," Murkowski said.

Murkowski is the ranking member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Her full testimony before the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee is attached.