Cantwell, Murray Introduce Legislation to Protect American Coasts from Catastrophic Oil Spills

U.S. Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA), the Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, and Patty Murray (D-WA) introduced the Clean Coast Act on Thursday. The legislation codifies rules that were finalized by the Department of the Interior in 2016 to address key safety recommendations made after the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster.

 

The BP Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill – a catastrophic human, economic, and ecological disaster – resulted in the deaths of 11 members of the crew and the injury of 17 others. Oil spewed into the ocean for nearly three months, resulting in the largest offshore oil spill disaster in the history of the United States.

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“President Trump has ordered the roll back of common sense solutions to improve safety and prevent oil spills,” said Senator Cantwell. “Friday marks the eighth anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon disaster and today I have introduced legislation to prevent tragedies like that from happening again.”

 

“Communities in Washington state and across the country who depend on our healthy coasts for their food, recreation and livelihood would be devastated by an event like the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe, and President Trump’s move to reverse rules that help keep people safe and protect our ecosystem against such disasters is a huge step in the wrong direction,” said Senator Murray. “I’m proud to partner with Senator Cantwell on legislation that will help ensure families and businesses in Washington state and around the nation are safeguarded from these reckless and misguided decisions.”

 

In April 2017, President Trump issued Executive Order 13795, “Implementing an America-First Offshore Energy Strategy,” directing the Department of the Interior to reconsider the Blowout Preventer Systems and Well Control Rule and the Arctic Drilling Rule in order to encourage and prioritize oil and gas exploration and production.

The Clean Coast Act codifies the Blowout Preventer Systems and Well Control Rule and the Arctic Drilling Rule:

 

  • Blowout Preventer Systems and Well Control Rule: This rule includes safeguards like minimum requirements for the design, manufacture, repair, and maintenance of blowout preventers; dual shear rams for deepwater blowout preventers; real-time monitoring capability for high-risk drilling activities; and criteria for safe drilling margins consistent with recommendations arising out of the Deepwater Horizon tragedy. The Blowout Preventer Systems and Well Control Rule was finalized in April 2016.

 

  • Arctic Drilling Rule: This rule includes safeguards for drilling activities in the U.S. Arctic Outer Continental Shelf, such as requiring access to appropriate containment and response equipment; ability to drill a relief well within the same season; and capability to predict and respond to ice conditions and adverse weather. The Arctic Drilling Rule was finalized in July 2016.

 

The legislation is also co-sponsored by U.S. Senators Ed Markey (D-MA), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Jack Reed (D-RI), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Tom Carper (D-DE), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Kamala Harris (D-CA), and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).

 

The full text of the bill can be found HERE.

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