Environmentalists Seek $5 Billion from Proposed BP Escrow Fund

BP oil spillThree leading environmental groups today urged the Obama administration to allocate a minimum of $5 billion of the proposed $20 billion BP (BP) escrow fund to restore the environment damaged by the deadly April 20 explosion and sinking of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, which triggered the worst oil spill in U.S. history.

President Obama is pressing for the fund to be independently administered. BP, which has taken responsibility for the spill, expects its costs to be $3 billion to $6 billion, though experts say that the U.K. company the amound could be higher.

President Obama is addressing the American people about the disaster Tuesday night. He's also scheduled to meet with BP executives this week, including the company's embattled CEO Tony Hayward. BP executives are also testifying before Congress.

"Additional Funds Will Be Required"

The $5 billion allocation is just a start to pay for the damage BP has done to the environment, according to a letter to Obama from the heads of the National Wildlife Federation, National Audubon Society and the Environmental Defense Fund.

"Additional funds will be required once Natural Resource Damage Assessments have been completed and the full extent of the spill damage is known," according to the letter.

The scope of the oil spill is unprecedented, so no one is sure about how much the cleanup will cost, how long it will take or how successful it will be. Nonetheless, the groups argue that "BP should not be allowed to escape responsibility for the further degradation of this ecosystem just because direct acre-by-acre repair of oiled wetlands is impossible."

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