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Cochran pushing for more Coast Guard funding

WASHINGTON — With the Coast Guard warning that it will soon deplete available resources to address the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) is supporting Senate passage of legislation to lift the cap placed on funding to pay for emergency oil spill response activities.

The Senate approved legislation to repeal a $100-million limit placed on the funding the Coast Guard and other agencies can withdraw from the federal Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund (OSLTF). The Senate measure would allow the Coast Guard, Environmental Protection Agency, Minerals Management Service and other federal response agencies to access additional $100-million advances from the trust fund up to the level of the total OSLTF, currently about $1.6 billion.

The Senate approved the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund legislation (S.3473) by unanimous consent. The measure is based on provisions included in the Senate-passed FY2010 Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Bill (HR.4899), which has yet to be considered by the House of Representatives.

“The Coast Guard has alerted us that it will soon exhaust available trust fund resources, and this legislation will give it access to additional funding to battle the oil spill. BP is ultimately responsible for restoring this funding, but the Senate is acting properly to ensure the Coast Guard and other response agencies have what they need now to get the job done in the Gulf of Mexico,” said Cochran, vice chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

“I hope the House of Representatives will soon act favorably on this stand alone measure.”

Existing law limits the availability of funding from the OSLTF for federal response activities to $100 million for immediate oil spill containment and cleanup. The trust fund, created by the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, is funded through an 8-cent tax on each barrel of oil produced in or imported into the United States.

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