Although she had planned to introduce the bill Tuesday,she said a trip home convinced her to wait.
Murkowski said she spoke with residents in the area of the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill and decided to change some of the language in her draft.
“I want to incorporate some of these provisions from … people that speak from a point of reference we stand to benefit from,” she said.
Much of the bill is complete,and though she did not announce any cosponsors at Tuesday's press conference,Murkowski said she has found support for it.
The bill would establish an Office of Deepwater Horizon Claims Compensation within the Department of the Interior to administer economic claims within 30 days.
Decisions by the office's administrator,who would be a political appointment and have subpoena powers,would be open to appeal and would still allow claimants to seek punitive damages. Attorney fees would be limited to 5 percent of any award.
The new plan would also require the president to set
a liability cap for future spills using 12 factors,such as the water depth of a well,its estimated pressure and the economic value of coastal resources that might be damaged. If claims in a future incident exceed the liability limit,the difference would be split among other companies operating offshore facilities.
Murkowski said a liability cap is important to consider because a lack of one could lock out companies unable to afford high insurance costs from offshore drilling.
“Maybe that's something we want to accept,but I think it is something that we at least look at and understand what the repercussions may be,” she said.
Murkowski opposed efforts by Sen. Robert Menendez,D-N.J.,to eliminate the current $75 million cap and said any new level should not be based on “some arbitrary number.”
The White House has supported efforts to remove the liability cap,and the administration has begun to press BP to begin paying more for damages. In the coming days,the Obama administration plans to set up an escrow account to hold money from BP to pay for economic damages.
The amount of money that would go into the account hasn't been set,but the oil company would still be responsible for additional claims.
“What figure is put in an escrow account on the front end does not limit what damages BP is responsible for,” White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told NPR's “Morning Edition” Tuesday.
President Barack Obama is scheduled to address the country from the Oval Office Tuesday night and to meet with BP officials,including CEO Tony Hayward,on Wednesday.
Murkowski's plan would raise a tax on oil for the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund from 8 cents to 21 cents per barrel. The move would bring the fund to $10 billion. It would provide new money for U.S. Coast Guard research into spill-response technologies. The bill would also move to this year from 2017 an allocation of 37.5 percent of oil and gas revenues from drilling leases in the Gulf to states and communities in the region.