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Providing for Consideration of H.R. 4078, Red Tape Reduction and Small Business Job Creation Act, and Providing for Consideration of H.R. 6082, Congressional Replacement of President Obama's Energy-Restricting and Job-Limiting Offshore Drilling Plan

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Ms. CASTOR of Florida. I thank my good friend from Florida on the Rules Committee for yielding time.

I rise to oppose the rule and the underlying bills, particularly H.R. 6082, because that bill unreasonably expands offshore drilling without the corresponding and necessary safety standards.

The Republicans are ignoring the lessons that we learned after the BP Deepwater Horizon blowout. Again, they are putting the profits of the oil companies ahead of the safety and larger economic concerns of families and businesses all across our great country.

Certainly, memories cannot be so short that we don't remember the devastation caused by the BP Deepwater Horizon blowout and disaster. That oil spewed for months and months, and they could not cap the well. In the meantime, it caused serious economic damage, not just to my home State of Florida and to the tourism industry and fishing and to the hotels and motels and restaurants, but all across the gulf coast and all across the country.

I recall very well, prior to the blowout, they said it was safe. They said drilling in deep water and offshore was safe and that there hadn't been very many accidents. But they were wrong. I remember Tony Hayward came in front of our committee, and he said, We were wrong. We didn't anticipate this would happen.

You've got to anticipate that it will happen.

Unfortunately, in the aftermath, we appointed a blue ribbon commission, the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon blowout. They issued their report in January of 2011. They had many recommendations from experts in how you make offshore drilling safe. The Congress has not acted on any of those recommendations to make it safe. Yet, in this bill, they press ahead to open even more areas for oil drilling. That's not right. You're putting our economy and our environment at risk when you do so.

This was a great commission, by the way, because they didn't just stop there. They've issued progress reports along the way. I know people oftentimes don't like report cards, and the Congress is not going to like this report card. They've broken it down into safety and environmental protection, spill response and containment, and ensuring adequate resources.

Under safety and environmental protection, they say Congress has done nothing to make permanent the improvements that have been made by industry and the Obama administration. We've got to enact these into law before we go forward with more offshore drilling in new and pristine areas.

They say Congress has provided little support for spill response and containment. If we're going to expand drilling--and it certainly has to be part of our energy portfolio--we have to be able to respond to a disaster, and yet Congress has done nothing there.

It says, although the administration has provided increases in funding to oversight, Congress has taken little action to adjust the unrealistic limits on liability. Who is going to pay? It shouldn't be the taxpayers who pay for these disasters. Right now, they have not adjusted the outrageous liability limits that these oil companies have when there are accidents.

What you're doing is really thumbing your nose at--you're turning a blind eye to--the hard work done by the commission, the commission that proposed to protect us if we were going to rely on offshore oil. I think it's going to be part of our portfolio, so why not adopt reasonable safety standards?

I know some of my colleagues say, Well, we don't like red tape. I don't like red tape either, but this isn't red tape. These are vital environmental and economic safety standards to ensure that the $60 billion tourism industry in Florida is maintained. Those are hardworking folks and good jobs back home. For the hotels and motels, even though the oil was coming out of the ocean 350 miles away, their businesses fell off. All we ask is that simple safety standards be adopted.

Mr. Markey and Mr. Holt have proposed some of those as amendments. The Republicans rejected other ones. We need to adopt these. Otherwise, it is irresponsible to press ahead with expansive, new deepwater drilling in deeper areas, in pristine areas.

These recommendations are reasonable. And if the Republican Congress cannot take up reasonable safety standards in the wake of one of the worst economic and environmental disasters in our history, then I'd hate to say what's at risk for this great country.

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