Today, U.S. Senators Scott Brown, R-Mass., and Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., planned to introduce the bipartisan Oil Spill Prevention and Mitigation Improvement bill.
According to a press release from Brown's office, this legislation would require oil companies to have a viable, peer-reviewed response plan to respond to a significant leak. It would also direct existing funds within the Department of Energy to immediately build a team of private sector engineers and the National Academy of Sciences to stop the current disaster in the Gulf and mitigate the damage to wildlife and the environment in the region.
According to the press release:
Currently, oil companies are required to have a prevention mechanism, such as the blowout preventer that failed at Deepwater Horizon, but are not required to have a fail-safe backup plan to stop a serious leak once prevention has failed and a leak has started. The bill would direct the Minerals Management Service (MMS) to require a fail-safe plan in each new lease issued or existing lease renewed.
"It has been nearly two months since the spill in the Gulf, and the commentary from Washington has been long on blame and short on solutions. Jobs, livelihoods and our environment continue to be at serious risk here. Every scientist and engineer in the country with relevant experience should be working on this," Brown said. "Watching this unfold, I've been frustrated that there wasn't a viable plan ready to go to stop the leak at the bottom of the ocean. MMS has even acknowledged that they have not held oil companies such as BP to the highest standards in terms of a response plan, and this legislation would change that by making sure that any response plan is peer-reviewed and viable. This is a common-sense bill because it will help us respond to the crisis in the Gulf, as well as prevent another economic and environmental tragedy from happening in the future. This is an important step that oil companies and the federal government must take to ensure environmental stewardship and prevent economic losses."
"BP was clearly unprepared for and ill-equipped to clean up its own mess in the Gulf of Mexico. This is completely unacceptable, and I believe it stems from a reckless culture where oil companies have been allowed to cut corners to pursue a profits-above-all-else agenda," Feinstein said. "This legislation would require BP and other oil companies to do due diligence and provide a thorough, feasible, and peer-reviewed response plan before any new offshore drilling lease can be issued. Each response plan, which must be vetted and certified by the Secretary of the Interior, must prescribe the means and timeline for containment of a spill and be specifically tailored to the depth and location where drilling will occur. The bill would also leverage the full potential and expertise of the Department of Energy, the private sector, and academia to address the crisis in the Gulf and ensure that a spill like this never happens again."