Markey: One Week Before Anniversary of BP Spill, Republican “Oil Above All” Plan Represents a Pre-Spill Mentality
WASHINGTON (April 13, 2011) – During the markup of the House Republican “Oil Above All” bills today in the Natural Resources Committee, Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) issued the following statement:
“Fifty one weeks ago today, the BP Deepwater Horizon exploded. Eleven men lost their lives. Two days later, the rig sank, and during the next three months more than 4 million barrels of oil poured into the Gulf of Mexico.
“One year ago, most Americans had no idea what a blowout preventer was. We had been assured that the oil companies could drill without a major accident, and could respond quickly if it did.
“Fifty one weeks ago, the complacency and hubris of the oil industry was exposed by an uncontrolled force thousands of feet below the ocean’s surface. Since April 20th, 2010, we have learned many lessons about deepwater drilling, and about the reforms that are needed.
“We learned that the blowout preventer that the oil industry touted as a “failsafe” device might in fact be “sure to fail” if an actual blowout was underway.
“We learned that the only technology the oil industry had been relying on in the event of a spill was a Xerox machine. The spill response plans for major companies were so similar that they contained plans to evacuate walruses from the Gulf and listed the name and emergency phone number for the same long-deceased expert.
“We learned that the root causes of the worst environmental disaster in our nation’s history were “systemic” to the entire oil and gas industry.
“And yet here we are, one week removed from the first anniversary of the BP spill, and the Republican Majority is marking up a trio of bills that will take us back to the days of rubber stamps and systemic failures. The traditional first anniversary gift is paper. One week before the first anniversary of the BP spill, the Majority is considering 17 pages of text full of gifts for the oil industry.
“This legislative package reflects a pre-spill mentality of speed-over-safety. It would open up huge swaths of our coasts to drilling, without first applying any new safety standards learned from the BP disaster.
“It would deem drilling permits approved after 60 days, whether or not the environmental review has been completed. We need to review the lessons from the BP spill, not lessen safety review.
“And in the Gulf of Mexico, the Majority would require us to return to the environmental reviews done prior to the Deepwater Horizon disaster by deeming the shoddy, cookie-cutter work done before the accident as sufficient for new lease sales.
“We need a revision of the safety standards for the oil industry, not revisionist history that effectively erases the disaster in the Gulf.
“Of course, it’s not just the past that the Majority is revising—they’re also envisioning a future that doesn’t exist. These bills would do nothing to help consumers with prices at the gas pump in the short term, and very little even decades from now.
“The Majority has refused to enact measures that would move America away from foreign oil and towards other home-grown, safer, cleaner forms of energy.
“The Majority has balked at pushing oil companies to drill for the billions of barrels of oil contained under the tens of millions of acres of public land that the oil companies already own but are not using.
“Today, Democrats will offer amendments to ensure that if oil companies are going to drill ultra-deep, it must be ultra-safe and they must be able to respond to a spill ultra-fast. We will say that oil companies should drill on the leases they already hold before pressing to drill off more American beaches. And at a time when the Majority is cutting funds for cancer research, low-income energy assistance, and Headstart, Democrats will also move to ensure that Big Oil pays its fair share of the dues to run our country when they drill on public lands.
“This plan offered by the majority is not “All of the Above,” it is “Oil Above All.” And it is a plan that would ignore the lessons of the BP spill, could make offshore drilling less safe, and will continue high prices consumers and robust profits for OPEC and Big Oil.
“I urge my colleagues to vote against all three of these ill-conceived bills.”
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