ANNAPOLIS -- Unless they violate shipping regulations or commit an act of gross negligence, those who cause oil spills in Maryland will pay no more than $10 million for the damage they cause others under the terms of a bill passed yesterday by a House committee.
The Environmental Matters Committee agreed by a vote of 16-4 that total liability should be limited to $10 million for damage that is not directly environmental, such as loss of a waterman's equipment. Such liability is unlimited under current law.
Liability for containing and cleaning up environmental damage would remain unlimited under House Bill 683.
The Senate passed a related bill last week. Both bills have been hailed by maritime interests as necessary to make the port of Baltimore competitive with those of Virginia, where total liability is also limited to $10 million, the lowest in the nation, but the House bill left some lawmakers and environmentalists frustrated.