Mitt Romney will be the Republican nominee for President, but he can’t stop the “Washington GOP” from putting him in an untenable position on various issues. For instance, Republicans in both houses have introduced bills which would protect all oil companies, domestic and foreign, from any liability for deadly accidents from the rig to final distribution. The sponsors of the bills (the Senate’s “Domestic Fuels Act,” S. 2264, and the House companion bill, the “Domestic Fuels Protection Act,” H.R. 4345) want us to believe – they guarantee – that the bills would not discharge Big Oil, including Big Foreign Oil, from deaths and injuries due to negligence. But the language of the bills say otherwise. For instance,
1. As long as a storage tank meets new EPA regulations or guidelines, no entity can be held liable under any federal, state, or local law.
2. The bills give complete immunity to all fuel corporations if a claim is based on the fuel being put into an engine. This immunity extends to every entity on the petroleum chain of commerce, including entities that design, manufacture, sell, distribute or store fuel, fuel additives, blend stocks, vehicles, engines, and non-road equipment.
3. These bills wipe out state and federal consumer protection laws and state product liability laws. Even if injured consumers prove that the product is dangerous and defective and caused catastrophic harm, the manufacturers and retailers will be completely immune, even if they intentionally or recklessly expose consumers to serious health risks.
Once again, the Washington GOP is trying to force legislation through the Congress that would ignore and crush the states’ rights to run their own civil litigation systems and compromise Americans’ 7th Amendment right to a civil jury trial. Additionally, I don’t understand why the Washington GOP wants to extend total immunity to foreign oil companies, especially Hugo Chavez’ nationalized oil company, which Chavez uses to raise revenues for his nefarious ventures and to crush democracy in Venezuela.
The Washington GOP has trapped its new Presidential nominee by forcing him to defend a special protection bill for Hugo Chavez and domestic oil companies while Americans are being hammered by record-high gas prices. I’m as pro-oil production as any Republican, and Republicans have already aggressively pursued legislation to promote increased oil production in the U.S. These bills are unnecessary and unwise, both legally and politically.