House Passes Markey Safety, Whistleblower and Royalty Recovery Legislation -Recovering up to $53 Billion from Oil Companies

WASHINGTON (July 30, 2010) – Today, by a vote of 209 to 193, the House of Representatives passed critical oil spill legislation that will protect families living and working in the Gulf Coast. The CLEAR ACT (H.R. 3534) implements policy measures co-authored by Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), including strong new safety measures for oil drilling, and royalty recovery legislation that will cut the deficit by up to $53 billion. The House also passed the Offshore Oil and Gas Worker Whistleblower Protection Act (H.R. 5851) co-authored by Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) by a vote of 315 to 93.
This bill will cut the deficit and stop oil companies from cutting corners on safety,” said Rep. Markey. “Families and businesses in the Gulf who have been suffering for over 100 days from BP’s oil spill disaster can take some comfort tonight knowing Congress has acted to protect them from future oil spills.”

The explosion of BP’s Deepwater Horizon took the lives of 11 workers and caused the worst environmental disaster in our nation’s history. The oil spill has sidelined thousands of workers in the fishing industry and crippled tourism across the region. 

Congress has conducted an extensive investigation into this disaster, and the CLEAR Act corrects the fatal safety flaws that oil companies have allowed to occur,” said Markey. “My whistleblower legislation will give voice to workers who have the courage to stand against oil companies when they observe a dangerous situation.”

The legislation includes several key provisions authored by Rep. Markey, including:

Oil Revenue Recovery & Deficit Reduction

The CLEAR ACT includes legislation authored by Chairman Markey to close royalty loopholes that have historically allowed oil companies to drill for free on public lands in the Gulf of Mexico. This legislation will recover up to $53 billion in lost tax revenue that will be directed toward reducing our national deficit.

Whistleblower Protection:

The Offshore Oil and Gas Worker Whistleblower Protection Act (H.R. 5851) which Chairman Markey co-authored with Rep. George Miller (D-CA). Currently there is no federal law protecting oil and gas workers if they are retaliated against after speaking out on workplace health and safety violations on drilling rigs like the Deepwater Horizon. H.R. 5851 is modeled after other modern whistleblower statutes. For more information on the legislation, please CLICK HERE .

Blowout Preventer Act:

The CLEAR ACT includes legislation to ensure new safety standards for offshore oil and gas drilling. The Energy and Commerce Committee conducted a vigorous investigation into the causes of the BP’s Deepwater Horizon disaster. This investigation showed that the blowout preventer was riddled with problems, including a significant leak in a main hydraulic system that was improperly modified and not powerful enough to cut through joints in the drill pipe. Plus the “deadman switch” - the last line of defense - had a dead battery. Poor cementing and fatal decisions made by BP in the hours and minutes before the explosion have also been uncovered by the committee.

The Blowout Prevention Act – or BP Act – of 2010, sponsored by Reps. Henry Waxman, Bart Stupak, and Markey was developed with bipartisan support in the Energy and Commerce Committee, passing by a unanimous 48-0 vote.

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