|Ellison Calls on BP to Direct Dividends to Escrow Account for Oil Cleanup|
|June 14, 2010|
Washington, D.C. – As BP decides whether to move forward with a scheduled $10 billion dividend payment to shareholders, Rep. Keith Ellison (DFL-Minneapolis) and 31 other members of Congress called on the oil company to instead direct those funds to an escrow account dedicated to clean up the Deepwater Horizon spill and compensate its victims.
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. The lawmakers also called on BP to establish an escrow account to cover cleanup and compensation costs – and to direct dividend payments to that account.
“BP must back up its promise to pay to clean up this disaster and honor all legitimate claims -- common sense dictates that this should happen before paying extravagant dividends to stockholders,” Ellison said. “The American people need assurances that they won’t be left footing the bill if BP determines it cannot meet its commitments in the years to come. Putting BP’s dividends into an escrow fund will help ease these legitimate concerns.”
Ellison, Welch, Markey, Capps and a similar group of 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 10:30 a.m., though the list continues to grow: Reps. 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, Bob Filner, Timothy Walz, Pete Stark, Raul M. Grijalva, Betty Sutton, Steve Cohen, Maurice Hinchey, Michael Capuano and Michael Michaud.
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.