Via the New York Times this morning, BP is using its voluntary funding of several programs — $100 million for unemployed rig workers, $500 million for research, $90 million for Gulf Coast tourism — as a bargaining chip to try to get lawmakers to back down from punitive legislation.
BP has agreed to voluntarily fund a slew of programs related to Gulf restoration beyond its legal obligations, and state and federal officials are pushing for more. But the company is warning that proposed legislation that would limit its Gulf oil production would also limit its generosity.
From the Times:
“If we are unable to keep those fields going, that is going to have a substantial impact on our cash flow,” said David Nagle, BP’s executive vice president for BP America, in an interview. That, he added, “makes it harder for us to fund things, fund these programs.”
One piece of legislation, passed by the House in July, would prohibit any company with 10 or more fatalities (that’s only BP) or with $10 million fines (only BP) from drilling on the Outer Continental Shelf. That bill is, not surprisingly, of particular concern to BP.
The company maintains that it’s not backing down from its commitment to fund a $20 billion escrow fund to pay claims, a commitment that will be fulfilled at the end of 2013.