UPDATE 1-White House details oil spill legislation, spending

(Adds quotes, details)

MIAMI, May 12 (BestGrowthStock) – Legislation proposed by the Obama
administration to respond to the massive Gulf oil spill
foresees $118 million in one-time discretionary spending, the
bulk of which is expected to be covered by well owner BP
(BP.L: ), senior administration officials said on Wednesday.

White House officials who briefed reporters on the
legislation in a conference call from Washington said it would
enable the federal government to speed assistance to those
affected if the spreading spill worsens, which seems likely.

It would also lift an existing cap on damages liability for
the responsible company — BP in this case — relating to
economic losses caused by the oil spill.

BP is struggling to contain the oil gushing unchecked from
its Gulf of Mexico seabed well, which officials acknowledge
threatens serious economic and ecological damage to U.S. Gulf
Coast states, affecting tourism, fisheries and wildlife.

“No one in the administration will rest or be satisfied
until the leak is stopped at the source and oil in the Gulf is
contained and cleaned up and people in this region are able to
get back to their lives and livelihood,” Carol Browner,
assistant to the president for Energy and Climate Change, said
on the conference call.

The legislation being sent to Congress also called for a 1
cent per barrel increase in the tax that oil companies pay the
existing Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund, Jeff Liebman, acting
deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB),
told the conference call.

The proposal would increase the tax from 8 cents per barrel
(per 42 gallons) to 9 cents per barrel starting this year.

Liebman described the expected $118 million oil spill
response spending as “discretionary” and “one-time” and said
BP, as the responsible party in cleaning up the spill and
mitigating its effects, was expected to cover most of this.

The officials said the oil spill response legislation also
foresaw unemployment assistance of up to 26 weeks of benefits
to workers who were left without jobs as a result of a “spill
of national significance” — the category already being applied
to the big leak from the BP-owned well.

There also would be additional funding for increased
federal inspections of fisheries and oil installations and for
studies of environmental impact.

At the same briefing, Browner praised U.S. Senators John
Kerry and Joe Lieberman for a climate change and energy bill
they are introducing in the Senate and promised to work to pass
it into law.

She said administration officials would review the details
of the bill in the coming days but declined to comment on
specific aspects of this proposed legislation.

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(Reporting by Pascal Fletcher, Deborah Charles, Jeff Mason;
Editing by Vicki Allen)

UPDATE 1-White House details oil spill legislation, spending