Congressman Dave Reichert (WA-08) today introduced the bipartisan Offshore Drilling Safety Improvement Act with Congressman Jay Inslee (WA-01) in the wake of the Deep Water Horizon oil spill.
"I want to ensure Congress does everything possible to prevent another tragedy of the magnitude we've witnessed with the Deep Water Horizon spill," Reichert said. "That's why I've partnered with Rep. Jay Inslee to introduce the Offshore Drilling Safety Improvement Act, which will make sure that oil and gas drilling operations have better technology and safety measures in place, including the most advanced emergency shut-off equipment. This proposal should be a key part of Congressional action to address this disaster and its aftermath.
"The Deep Water Horizon spill is a tragedy of historic proportion for the Gulf Coast and has severe implications for the environment and the economy. Those in charge of managing this crisis must do everything possible to stop the leak and the damage it's doing to the environment and the livelihoods of those people affected by the spill. BP is responsible for this tragedy and must pay for the extensive damage that has been done," Reichert continued. "American taxpayers should not bear any financial burden in this crisis. The company has rightly accepted responsibility for this tragedy, and they must now be held to their commitment to pay for these damages. The federal government also must take responsibility for its disorganized response and its role in not holding BP to standards they clearly didn't hold themselves to. That's the role of regulators; in this case their failure unforgivably made BP's failures even worse.
"This event also serves as an important reminder on a larger scale: for the sake of our national security we must do everything possible to move to the next generation of energy, weaning our nation of its dependence on foreign oil. Allowing unstable areas of the world to dictate our energy supply is dangerous, and not in our country's best interest.
"Finally, this is a serious issue that should not be oversimplified or politicized for political gain. Attempting to do so is a big part of what's broken in Washington, DC. Too often we see a willingness to speak quickly in an attempt to score political points. It's wrong to politicize this issue that threatens our environment, our economy, and the livelihoods of our fellow Americans. I will continue thoughtfully gathering facts and information in order to put forward productive proposals, as I've done here today with the Offshore Drilling Safety Improvement Act. This has and always will be my approach to any issue affecting Washington's Eighth District and our country."
This legislation adds to Reichert's distinguished record of holding oil companies accountable for their actions. Specifically, the bill will amend the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act to require that all oil and gas drilling and production operations on the Outer Continental Shelf have safety and environmental management systems in place, including blowout preventers and additional back-up emergency shutoff equipment, and that such equipment uses the best available and safest technologies. The Secretary of Interior will be tasked with: (1) incorporating safety technology information from independent scientists and experts, academic institutions and from technology used internationally; and (2) considering the need for different technology requirements in different environments and depths. Reichert's other work on this issue includes fighting for victims of the Exxon-Valdez spill, including coauthoring legislation granting preferential tax treatment to victims to ensure their settlements weren't affected by Exxon's delays paying claims; voting to eliminate billions of dollars in wasteful subsidies for big oil companies and using that money to promote clean, renewable energy; and spearheading an effort to prevent supertankers in Puget Sound.