In 118th Congress, Senator Markey will continue legislative and oversight efforts to prevent offshore oil disasters

Washington (April 7, 2023) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Clean Air, Climate, and Nuclear Safety, released the following statement in response to a new report from the National Academies of Sciences, which finds that since the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill, systemic risk and slowed progress on the part of oil companies continue to pose a threat in the Gulf of Mexico:

“It has been 13 years since one of the largest environmental disasters in history, and we still have much left to do before we can say the health and safety of coastal communities, marine life, and Gulf residents are protected from some of the same Big Oil practices that caused Deepwater Horizon. I led the effort in Congress to uncover the devastation of the explosion and spill. While some steps have been taken, lives, livelihoods and our environment are still at risk from Big Oil’s bare-bones safety culture. Congress failed to pass the necessary provisions to protect workers, close financial loopholes, and strengthen safety standards, but I will keep fighting to hold the oil industry accountable through Congress and regulatory actions.”

Senator Markey was the leading Congressional investigator into the BP oil spill, and the first to post the “Spillcam” online of the underwater spill. In 2010, as then-Chair of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and the Environment, Senator Markey led a bipartisan Congressional delegation to the Gulf of Mexico to assess the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and its impact on the waters, beaches, and marshes of four coastal states, and to meet with affected communities and response teams. Fifty-two days after the start of the disaster, Senator Markey chaired the first Congressional hearing on Deepwater Horizon to investigate the cause and damage of the spill.

Senator Markey succeeded in getting major provisions of the oil spill legislation included in the bipartisan Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2022, which was included in the James M. Inhofe National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for the Fiscal Year 2023. These provisions would direct the Coast Guard to develop and implement a program to improve oil spill response by periodically reviewing and auditing vessel response plans (VRPs), oil spill response drills, and responses to oil spill incidents that require the mobilization of contracted resources. As a result of Senator Markey’s legislation, the NDAA also requires annual review and updates to the Coast Guard Response Resource Inventory and other Coast Guard tools used to document the availability of oil spill response equipment to ensure that such information remains current.