Klobuchar, Franken join colleagues in urging oil spill clean-up fund

WASHINGTON — Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken joined most of their Democratic colleagues in demanding that BP create a $20 billion fund for clean-up and environmental damage repair from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. 

The letter, sent late last week, sets the tone for a monumental week for both the oil giant and lawmakers. BP will be the focus of several hearings on Capitol Hill and the subject of an Oval Office statement from President Obama Tuesday evening. 

In the letter, Senate Democrats called on Chief Executive Officer Tony Hayward to create a $20 billion fund that would be used to cover “the full extent of the destruction.”

“Establishment of this account would serve as an act of good faith and as a first step towards ensuring that there will be no delay in payments or attempt to evade responsibility for damages,” the lawmakers wrote. 

A reply is requested from BP by Friday.

Representatives from five of the largest oil companies in America — ExxonMobil, Chevron Corp., ConocoPhillips, BP America Inc. and Shell Oil Co. — will testify Tuesday before the House. Hayward on Thursday will make his first appearance on the Hill since the oil spill.

President Obama is in the midst of a two-day trip to the Gulf Coast and will return to Washington Tuesday to make his first Oval Office address to the nation on the oil spill. The president’s speech, which is expected to last about 15 minutes, will air at 7 p.m. Central on all major networks.

Lauren Knobbe is an intern in MinnPost’s D.C. bureau.

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