Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Plug the Hole, Remove the Cap

Law professor and free marketer Richard Epstein has a few ideas on the BP front. The first is - remove the stupid $75 million cap on tort damages for oil drillers. He calls it "chicken feed" and he's right.
Fortunately, the law removes that cap if the incident was caused by "the gross negligence or willful misconduct" of any party, or its failure to comply with any "applicable Federal safety, construction, or operating regulation."

BP has waived the cap by expressing its willingness to pay "any legitimate claim." No surprise here, especially as the evidence to date suggests the cap will be blown off precisely because of the two exceptions. But we'd all be much better off if there were no statutory liability cap and if operators both big and small were required to purchase insurance—amounting to the tens of billions if necessary—when they operate in dangerous waters or terrains.
He has other suggestions that will be less popular with the environmental set. Read the whole thing.


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