The Obama administration warned BP in a strongly worded letter Saturday that the federal government expects the oil giant — and not taxpayers — to pay all damages associated with the ongoing Gulf of Mexico oil leak, even if they exceed the $75-million liability cap under federal law.

Two Cabinet secretaries, Ken Salazar of Interior and Janet Napolitano of Homeland Security, wrote to BP chief executive Tony Hayward to reiterate the administration’s position that “BP is accountable to the American public for the full clean up of this spill and all the economic loss caused by the spill and related events.”

The secretaries noted that BP has promptly paid damages claims thus far, and that company officials have repeatedly said they’ll pay all “legitimate claims” stemming from the sinking of the Deepwater Horizon rig and subsequent, ongoing leak of thousands of barrels a day.

In light of those statements, Salazar and Napolitano wrote, “we understand that BP will not in any way seek to rely on the potential $75 million statutory cap to refuse to provide compensation to any individuals or others harmed by the oil spill, even if more than $75 million is required to provide full compensation to all claimants, and BP will not seek reimbursement from the American taxpayers, the United States Government, or the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund for any amount.

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“The public has a right to a clear understanding of BP’s commitment to redress all of the damage that has occurred or that will occur in the future as a result of the oil spill. Therefore, in the event that our understanding is inaccurate, we request immediate public clarification of BP’s true intentions.”

An Interior spokeswoman said that the letter was not in response to any specific action from BP.

via Latimes.com