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Gulf oil spill: Senate Democrats call on BP to set aside $20 billion to pay for cleanup and economic damages

June 13, 2010 |  1:52 pm

A majority of the Senate called on BP to set up a $20-billion account, administered by an independent  trustee, to pay for cleanup and economic damages from the massive gulf oil spill, calling it an important step toward "ensuring that there will be no delay in payments or attempt to evade responsibility for damages."

The request came in a letter signed by 54 senators, or nearly the entire Democratic caucus. "The damages caused by your company are far reaching," the legislators wrote to BP's chief executive, Tony Hayward.

Although the oil company has pledged to pay cleanup costs and economic damage claims, "history has taught us that corporations often fail to live up to their initial promises," the senators wrote.

In the letter, senators said that creating such a fund would "do more to improve BP's public image than the costly public relations campaign your company has launched."

They asked for a response by Friday, a day after Hayward is scheduled to make his first appearance before a congressional committee.

-- Richard Simon, reporting from Washington

Photo: BP chief Tony Hayward, seen visiting a Louisiana beach last month, was asked in a letter by Senate Democrats to set aside $20 billion for expenses related to the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Credit: Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times