In 2010, then-Congressman Markey led efforts in Congress to hold BP accountable for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill
Washington (September 14, 2022) – Today, Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation and Chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Clean Air, Climate, and Nuclear Safety, introduced the Oil Spill Response Review Act, legislation that would improve upon the U.S. Coast Guard’s capacity to plan for and respond to harmful oil spills. Senator Markey succeeded in getting major provisions of this legislation included in the bipartisan Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2022, which was favorably reported out of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation this morning. The Oil Spill Response Review Act would strengthen the Coast Guard’s review of vessel response plans (VRPs) by incorporating incident data and verifying the accuracy of submitted and stored information. It would also expand the designated uses of the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund, enabling funds to go toward oil spill incident data collection and verification, regular updates to VRPs, and training and equipping Tribal and remote communities with resources and information for oil spill planning, preparedness, and response.

“Oil and water don’t mix,”
 said Senator Markey. “Coastal communities know too well the dangers of toxic spills fueled by Big Oil and its addiction to offshore drilling. We have an urgent obligation to use all the tools at the federal government’s disposal, and that includes empowering the Coast Guard to fulfill its duty to protect our nation and its waters by stopping these spills.”

In 2010, then-Congressman Markey, Chair of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and the Environment, led the charge in Congress to hold BP accountable for the devastating Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Markey brought a bipartisan Congressional delegation to the Gulf to assess the spill and its impact on the waters, beaches, and marshes of four coastal states. Following meetings with families, businesses, and response teams put in harm’s way by the spill, Markey later chaired the first Congressional hearing on Deepwater Horizon 52 days after the start of the disaster to gather testimony and investigate the cause and damage wrought by the spill.

“As we transition to clean, safe energy that creates jobs and lowers costs, we must continue to be ready and able to protect coastal communities from the dangers of oil spills and other fossil-fueled disasters,” Senator Markey continued. “Only then can we prevent the next Deepwater Horizon from ever happening."
Later in 2010, Markey continued his efforts to hold BP accountable by introducing legislation alongside then-Congresswoman Lois Capps (CA-24) that would have established an independent, “blue-ribbon” commission to further investigate Deepwater Horizon. Markey also wrote directly to BP to ask the oil conglomerate to share details regarding the total size of the flow of oil spilling into the Gulf Mexico. The Oil Spill Response Review Act of 2022 would similarly direct the General Accountability Office (GAO) to conduct a study with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to assess the federal government’s responses to oil spills following Deepwater Horizon.

A copy of the legislation can be read HERE. A summary of the legislation can be read HERE.

The Oil Spill Response Review Act is endorsed by National Resources Defense Council, Oceana, Ocean Conservancy, and Alaska Chadux Network.

“Oil spills are a significant threat to our ocean and coasts. Oil spills can injure or kill wildlife, foul coastlines, contaminate subsistence food sources and wreak havoc on commercial fisheries, tourism and other ocean-based economic sectors,” said Jeff Watters, Vice President of External Affairs at Ocean Conservancy. “The increased inventory review, studies, and data collection called for in Senator Markey’s bill will enhance the United States’ ability to respond to oil spills and ensure we protect communities and the marine resources on which they depend. Congress must move quickly to pass this legislation.”

“Where they drill, they spill and Senator Markey’s bill goes a long way to help ensure that the Coast Guard has accurate, up-to-date information and is adequately prepared to respond to oil spill disasters,” said Diane Hoskins, Climate and Energy Campaign Director at Oceana. “Offshore drilling is dirty and dangerous, and it is only a matter of time until another major oil spill shuts down beaches and poisons fisheries.”

“We appreciate Senator Markey’s leadership on this important issue,” said Buddy Custard, President & CEO at Alaska Chadux Network. “Coast Guard policies and procedures should be driven by data, consider regionally specific challenges and account for the best available technologies and methods. This bill will move the agency in that direction.”