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Senate panel approves oil spill bill

WASHINGTON — A Senate panel has voted to require stronger oil spill response plans and to remove limits on a company’s liability against economic harm.

The legislation, approved yesterday by the Senate environment committee, now advances to the full Senate, where it is likely to be merged with other bills being developed in response to the devastating oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

The Senate Environment and Public Works committee voted to remove the current $75-million liability cap for economic damage. The other bill requires companies to show they have the economic and technical capabilities to contain a spill. Several GOP senators complained the requirements will bar all but the biggest oil companies from offshore drilling.

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