Anticipating a flurry of lawsuits related to the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the White House has asked Congress for $10 million to finance a legal war chest.
The request is part of a legislative package President Barack Obama sent to the House to help respond to the Gulf disaster and future spills, The Wall Street Journal
The $10 million would pay for "litigation expenses related to affirmative and defensive litigation associated with the Deepwater Horizon oil spill that may not qualify as recoverable from the Responsible Parties or the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund," according to a copy of the proposal obtained by the newspaper. Deepwater Horizon is the oil rig that exploded in the Gulf, causing the spill.
The money will go to the Department of Justice's civil and environmental natural resources division to help it take on any potential litigation, Kenneth Baer, communications director for the White House's Office of Management and Budget, told the Journal. He said the DOJ is collecting evidence for any potential claims against the government.
The administration has repeatedly said that oil giant BP would be on the hook for all costs related to the spill. The request is the first sign the government anticipates having to pay some costs.
The White House also sought money to help Gulf residents affected by the spill, to raise the existing oil spill cleanup tax by a penny a barrel, and to increase the potential liability of firms responsible for spills.