Congressman Filner calls on BP to direct dividends to special account for spill cleanup and victim compensation

As BP board members debate whether to move forward with a scheduled dividend payment, U.S. Congressman Bob Filner joined 31 other members of Congress to call on the oil company to instead direct those funds to an escrow account dedicated to cleaning up the Deepwater Horizon spill and compensating its victims.

“It is time for the folks at BP to put their money where their mouth is,” said Filner. “They continue to say they will pay any legitimate claims and now they need to give us some certainty of how that will happen.  Directing dividend payments to an escrow account is the type of assurance that we need from BP to make sure victims will be taken care of and the spill will be cleaned up.”

In a letter to BP CEO Tony Hayward, the House members urged BP to ensure it has the funds to pay the full costs of the devastating Gulf Oil spill by temporarily suspending its annual $10 billion dividend. Further, the group called on BP to establish an escrow account to cover cleanup and compensation costs – and to direct dividend payments to that account.

“Your company has affirmed its intention to pay the full costs of this devastating environmental and economic disaster,” Filner and his colleagues wrote. “As those costs continue to rise – to $37 billion, by one estimate – the American people require an assurance that your company will be able to honor all legitimate claims.”

These House members first wrote BP last week urging the company to suspend its dividend and public relations campaign until it fully remedies the Gulf catastrophe. Their latest letter builds on Senate Democrats’ proposal to create a $20 billion escrow account administered by independent trustees and available for compensation claims and cleanup efforts.

The letter, copied below, was signed by the following House members as of this morning, though the list continues to grow: Congress members Bob Filner, Peter Welch, Ed Markey, Lois Capps, Keith Ellison, John Olver, John Hall, Gabrielle Giffords, Rosa L. DeLauro, Ron Kind, Dennis Cardoza, Anna Eshoo, Mazie Hirono, Joe Courtney, Russ Carnahan, Jared Polis, Bill Owens, Dave Loebsack, Paul Tonko, Carolyn Maloney, Doris Matsui, Robert Brady, Bill Delahunt, Rush Holt, Timothy Walz, Pete Stark, Raul M. Grijalva, Betty Sutton, Steve Cohen, Maurice Hinchey, Michael Capuano and Michael Michaud.

Tony Hayward

Chief Executive Officer

BP

1 St James’s Square

London

SW1Y 4PD

Dear Mr. Hayward,

As BP board members debate whether to issue a second quarter dividend payment, we renew our call to suspend the dividend and, further, we urge you to direct such funds to an escrow account dedicated to cleaning up the Deepwater Horizon spill and compensating its victims.

Your company has affirmed its intention to pay the full costs of this devastating environmental and economic disaster. As those costs continue to rise – to $37 billion, by one estimate – the American people require an assurance that your company will be able to honor all legitimate claims.

President Obama and 54 members of the U.S. Senate have called for the establishment of an independently administered $20 billion escrow account, which would be available to cover cleanup costs and economic damages. We join them in their request and further call on BP to divert future dividend payments to this account until such time that all cleanup and compensation costs are fully covered.

Sincerely,

Bob Filner

Member of Congress

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