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Idea of the Day: Earmarking BP’s Money in Escrow for Clean Up and Compensation

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The BP Gulf Coast rig explosion is a horrible human, economic, and environmental disaster. The death of 11 employees is tragic. The spill could devastate the Gulf Coast commercial and sport fishing industries for years to come, as well as ravaging the region’s tourism economy. Louisiana’s seafood industry alone is worth $2 billion annually.

The rig explosion causes what CNN reports officials say “could become one of worst spills in U.S. history.” Tragically, there are 11 missing rig employees were killed. The well continues to leak at least 210,000 gallons of oil per day into the Gulf of Mexico—five times the original estimate, and it could be much more. This growing oil slick already covers an area larger than West Virginia and and oozed onto the Louisiana shore this past weekend. A major portion of the oil slick looms only five miles offshore. This major oil spill could be the worst environmental disaster since the Exxon Valdez spill in 1989, and it is a tragic reminder that we must dramatically reduce our oil use.

BP made $163 billion in profits from 2001-09 and $5.6 billion in the first quarter of 2010. Therefore, BP should be required to place its first quarter profit of $5.6 billion in an escrow account to provide compensation to the fishermen, those in the tourist industry, and others whose livelihoods are threatened. These funds should also be used for cleaning up the soon to be blighted shores.

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