The immediate and long-term impact of the Gulf oil spill disaster on the water, fish, and wildlife, the fishing industry, and the regional economy is truly devastating and only continues to grow in scope. As a coastal state, Delawareans are watching closely. We cherish our beaches and rely heavily on the economic benefits of tourism, just as so many in the Gulf.
While the damage continues to devastate the region, Congress and the Administration must take immediate steps to ensure victims are duly compensated, and review stronger regulations and prevention mechanisms that put a higher priority on human safety and the environment. Advancing domestic clean energy solutions must follow. As a result of recent congressional hearings and the President's address last night, legislative proposals will likely soon be put forth, and I stand ready to work with my colleagues in Congress on bipartisan solutions to meet these and other challenges. I am encouraged that BP agreed today to an independent $20 billion fund to pay claims, but we must not lose sight that costs could climb even higher--regardless, BP must be held accountable.
The Gulf spill serves as a stark reminder to us all of the risk associated with our dependence on oil, and the need to better protect the public and our natural resources. There remains a finite supply and increasing global demand for oil, and the U.S. consumes far more than we have available domestically. Our reliance on less than friendly nations poses a major security threat to our nation. The U.S. is poised to positively influence global solutions to some of the greatest environmental and energy challenges. It is clear we cannot delay in advancing a global market for affordable, domestic, clean energy sources, including those that will fill our gasoline tanks in cars and trucks. Continuing federal incentives will be key drivers in bringing about such change.
I have introduced legislation in the House, which aims to help foster growth in offshore wind off Delaware's coast, and nationwide. The bill would provide long-term extensions of the federal production and investment tax credits for offshore wind. The long lead times for obtaining permits and constructing offshore wind turbines necessitate long-term incentives to provide stability for building proposed projects and developing a pipeline of new ones.
We have a serious security and economic need to establish a strong framework for clean energy production, reduce pollution, and spur technological innovation and manufacturing that will improve American competitiveness.