Representative Jim Oberstar (D-Minnesota) calls out BP for not having a back-up when there was a blow out on it’s oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico. ;He called it an “insult” to people living in the area.The comments came during a hearing on a bill to lift the cap on oil companies liability for disasters like the one in the Gulf.
Press release from Rep. Oberstar’s office:
Sweeping legislation to prevent future oil spills and hold oil companies like BP accountable passed the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure today with unanimous support. The legislation, introduced by Congressman Jim Oberstar, who chairs the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, eliminates the $75 million liability cap and holds oil companies 100 percent responsible for the costs of cleaning up oil spill damage. The Oil Spill Accountability and Environmental Protection Act of 2010 (H.R. 5629) also makes a series of reforms to prevent future oil spills.
“The BP spill was a tragedy for the families who lost loved ones in the explosion and is a disaster for the entire Gulf Coast,” said Oberstar. “We owe it to everyone who has been impacted by this disaster to do all we can to ensure that BP is held accountable and reforms are made to prevent future spills.”
In two major hearings on the Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf, Oberstar’s committee learned that the Bush administration allowed BP to start drilling without submitting a plan to respond to a failure of the blow out preventer valve, the component that ultimately failed to stop the oil from flowing into the Gulf after the April 20th explosion on the BP oil rig.
“There was no preparation and no plan to deal with a disaster of this magnitude,” said Oberstar. “There was a total reliance upon the industry to build, design, engineer and self-certify the sea-worthiness and safety of the Deepwater Horizon rig – that has to stop.”
Key provisions in Oberstar’s bill include:
Removes the $75 million liability cap and requires companies engaged in drilling activity to be responsible for 100 percent of oil pollution cleanup costs and damages to third parties
Requires that oil rigs operating in the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone (200-mile zone) to be U.S. Flag vessels owned by U.S. citizens. This ensures that rigs will be subject to U.S. safety regulations
Requires the Coast Guard, Department of Transportation and EPA to sign off on spill response plans for off shore drilling operations and then makes those plans publically available
Specifically states that response plan waivers will not be allowed
Directs the EPA to reevaluate and revise the process used to approve chemical dispersants
With the approval of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, the full House of Representatives is expected to consider Oberstar’s legislation by the end of July. The Senate is working on a companion bill.