The liability of offshore oil explorers in the United States for environmental damage is limited by current legislation to $US75 million. That's hardly a figure to stop companies from taking a risk or two. BP probably earns that amount every hour of the day. So it was last week that Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) introduced a bill to increase the maximum liability to a more realistic $10 billion.
The American Petroleum Institute (API) quickly sprang into action expressing its opposition to the proposal arging that doing so would "threaten the viability of deep-water operations, significantly reduce U.S. domestic oil production and harm U.S. energy security." Alaska's Sen. Lisa Murkowski agreed and found a procedural way to stopping the bill.
The website TPMmuckraker reports that like numerous Alaska lawmakers, Murkowski counts the oil and gas industry as a major backer. According to online records, it has contributed over $426,000 -- more than any other industry aside from electric utilities -- to her campaigns over the course of her career.