Maria's Weekly Update
Senator Maria Cantwell's Weekly Update for Washington State
Monday, November 14 , 2005
Fighting to Stop More Oil Tankers in Puget Sound
Giveaways to the oil industry that put Washington 's inland waterways at risk are reckless, irresponsible, and inexcusable. That's why I will use every tool available to me to stop legislation introduced by Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska to eliminate 28-year-old safeguards limiting oil tanker traffic in Puget Sound . Overturning these vital environmental protections, authored by former Washington state Senator Warren Magnuson, could turn our Sound into an oil expressway, and could transform BP's Cherry Point refinery in Whatcom County to into a huge export terminal for giant oil tankers. Almost 600 tankers and over 3,000 oil barges already travel through Puget Sound each year to service Washington state refineries, which produce about twice as many petroleum products as we need for in-state consumption. Washingtonians have told me loud and clear that they don't want to increase the chance of an oil spill in Puget Sound . We learned valuable lessons when nearly 11 million gallons of oil spilled in Alaska 's Prince William Sound . We don't need to relearn them here in the Puget Sound.
Pushing Big Oil Companies for Answers
Last Wednesday, when top executives from Exxon/Mobil, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, BP, and Shell testified before a joint hearing of the Senate Energy and Commerce committees, I secured a commitment from them to open their books so Congress and the public can understand why we are experiencing record high energy costs. Hard-working Americans deserve straight answers and transparency. That's why I'm going to make sure oil executives follow through on their pledge. When there's no transparency, it's easy for vertically integrated oil companies to use Enron-style accounting to intentionally drive up prices and make a quick buckor in this case $100 billion in profits this yearat the expense of our nation's drivers. Soaring fuel costs hurt families, farmers, and businesses. They're causing pensions to disappear and our economy to stagnate. I've authored legislation cosponsored by 29 of my Senate colleagues to make price-gouging and market manipulation illegal. We need to make sure oil companies are not creating shortages on paper by trading oil or diverting it overseas to justify staggering price increases at the pump. I fought to make sure Enron did not get off the hook for manipulating the electricity market and bilking consumers out of millions of dollars. Now, we need to make sure big oil companies are not using similar schemes to raid the wallets of American families.
Preparing for the New Medicare Drug Benefit
Enrollment for the Medicare Prescription Drug Program begins tomorrow, November 15, 2005. The new Medicare prescription drug program will go into effect on January 1, 2006. Seniors can choose from several Medicare drug plans, all of which vary in cost, cover different drugs, and include different pharmacies. Prospective enrollees should research all of their options carefully before deciding which prescription drug plan, if any, they wish to join. Most people who plan to enroll must do so by May 15, 2006 to avoid paying late penalties. While this new program will help certain groups with their prescription drug costs, I have many concerns over the implementation of the program. In response to questions and comments from my constituents, I have gathered some basic information on the Medicare Prescription Drug Program, which you can view on my website at cantwell.senate.gov/services/MedicareDrugBenefit.pdf . If you have not received the Medicare Newsletter from my office and would like one, call 1-888-648-7328. You can also learn more by contacting Medicare at 1-800-633-4227 or www.medicare.gov , and can receive one-on-one help by contacting the Washington Statewide Health Insurance Benefits Advisors at 1-800-397-4422 or www.insurance.wa.gov/consumers/shiba/default.asp .
Honoring the Historic Journey of Lewis and Clark
This November, the Pacific Northwest celebrates the bicentennial of Lewis and Clark's arrival on the Pacific Coast . Saturday, November 19 marks the 200 year anniversary of the expedition's first sighting of the Pacific, as well as an important milestone in the history of our country. Meriwether Lewis and William Clark's epic journey explored and charted the western frontier of our fledgling nation. They produced the first maps and charts of a previously undocumented region. They also created an invaluable record of the native cultures, the flora, and the fauna they encountered. More fundamentally though, their task was to explore the unknown. In doing so, they expanded the boundaries of our nation and pushed the limits of what we were capable, as a people. Their journey was America 's great odyssey. It marked our nation's coming of age and represents its core values: courage, innovation, perseverance, and opportunity.