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Rep. Edward J. Markey, Chairman - Stay Connected with Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and RSS Feeds
The Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming addressed our nation's energy, economic and national security challenges during the 110th and 111th Congresses.

This is an archived version of the committee's website, where the public, students and the media can continue to access and learn from our work.

Markey Bill to Force Oil Companies to Relocate Walruses Back to the Arctic

New Legislation Requires Oil Industry to Update Spill Response Plans, Calls for Updated Federal & Regional Plans, and Safer Dispersants

Contact: Chairman Ed Markey, 202-225-4012

WASHINGTON (June 25, 2010) – Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) today introduced legislation that would finally push the oil industry to update their spill response plans. The oil spill response plans submitted by the major oil companies were, as the companies admitted in a June 15th hearing before Rep. Markey’s Energy and Environment Subcommittee, an embarrassment, and entirely inadequate to respond to a disastrous oil spill. Rep. Markey revealed at that hearing that the companies’ plans included scenarios to protect non-existent walruses in the Gulf of Mexico, and listed phone numbers for long-dead scientists.

“This bill will finally force the oil companies to put walruses back in the Arctic, and get real safety response plans in the Gulf,” said Rep. Markey, who chairs the Energy and Environment Subcommittee of the Energy and Commerce Committee. “It’s time for oil companies to get serious about the real risks and challenges associated with oil disasters. The families living and working in the Gulf Coast deserve safety response plans that are iron clad, not boilerplate.”

To bill text can be found HERE.

Investigations conducted by Chairman Markey, the Energy and Commerce Committee and others have revealed several notable and glaring problems associated with the oil companies’ response plans, including:

--The oil companies’ response plans contained scenarios to protect walruses, seals, and other species not found in the Gulf of Mexico.
--The oil companies’ response plans contained the names and phone numbers of a long-dead expert.
--The oil companies’ response plans contained a defunct Japanese website address for the corporation expected to provide response equipment.
--In its plan specific to the Macondo well, BP said that even its worst-case spill would cause almost no environmental consequences.
--The oil companies' response plans contained no spill scenario modeling based on subsurface leaks or deepwater drilling activities.
--The dispersants that have been approved for use have not been tested to determine effects associated with sub-surface application or long-term use.

The legislation Rep. Markey introduced today, called the Better Oil Spill Response Plan Act of 2010, remedies these problems. It contains provisions to:

--Force the oil companies to provide the federal government with updated response plans within six months and periodically thereafter. The plans must include estimates of the worst-case scenarios for oil and gas drilling for various regions in the U.S., taking into account sub-surface and deep-water impacts.
--Require the federal government to revise regulations for the oil and gas companies’ facility and vessel response plans within 1 year, making sure that these response plans will take the new worst case scenarios into account and that they are based on an accurate assessment of the geographic area where the rigs will be operating. The plans must include a demonstration and certification that the drilling operators can execute the plans. The president must approve these plans, and a provision that specified conditions for a presidential waiver of the plan approval requirement is struck.  After two years, there must be an approved response plan for each facility or vessel owner.
--Require the federal government to update, within nine months, its response plan and associated regulations, to take into account lessons learned from the Deepwater Horizon leak, the new worst case scenarios, and the recommendations of the independent commission investigating the BP spill. The president will also be required to revise the plan (and regulations, if necessary) whenever there is a material revision to the worst case scenario.
--Update regional plans within 18 months to take into account lessons learned from the Deepwater Horizon leak, the new worst case scenarios, the recommendations of the independent commission and the new federal plan. These will also need to be revised whenever there is a material revision to the worst case scenario or the federal plan.
--Strengthen the safety review and approval process for dispersants or other chemicals to evaluate, among other considerations, the long-term, sub-surface use of the chemicals.  Publication of the chemical ingredients is required whenever a Spill of National Significance is declared.
--Ensure that having an approved response plan is made part of the leasing regulations associated with all drilling and production operations subject to this Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA).

Today Chairman Markey also introduced the “Stop Oil Spills Act,” a bill to fund research into new oil spill prevention and response technologies. Read more about the bill here:

PLEASE NOTE: The House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming was created to explore American clean energy solutions that end our reliance on foreign oil and reduce carbon pollution.

The Select Committee was active during the 110th and 111th Congresses. This is an archived version of the website, to ensure that the public has ongoing access to the Select Committee record. This website, including external links, will not be updated after Jan. 3rd, 2010.

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