Rockefeller Presses for Legislative Action on the One-year Mark of the BP Oil Spill

April 20, 2011

USCG Deep Horizon ResponseWASHINGTON, D.C.—Chairman John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV released this statement one year after the BP oil spill:

“The Deepwater Horizon explosion and resulting oil spill was an environmental catastrophe—and a human tragedy. It threw thousands of people—fisherman, business owners and Gulf residents—out of work. It upended lives and livelihoods. The explosion itself, a terrifying fireball, killed 11 and injured 17. It left widows and fatherless children behind.

“Yet through this terrible tragedy, we’ve seen glimmers of hope. We’ve witnessed nature’s recovery. A year later, all the federal waters affected by the spill are open to fishing. One thousand miles of sullied beaches have been reduced to less than 100. Gulf Coast seafood is safe and tourists are coming back.

“We’ve also witnessed the resiliency of Gulf Coast residents: their tenacity and ability to rebuild from the ashes of disaster.

“Still, this recovery is fragile. And Congress can and must do more to help rebuild battered communities and prevent a terrible tragedy like this from ever happening again. The families of the Deepwater Horizon victims and the people of the Gulf have every reason to be frustrated by the lack of action in Congress. I know I am—and I’m fighting to do more. 

“Last year, I introduced two pieces of legislation in response to the BP oil spill. Taken together, these two bills were aimed at giving federal and state agencies the tools they need to prevent and respond to coastal spills, ensuring the long-term restoration of the Gulf, and holding companies accountable for the harm they caused.

“I’m frustrated that the parochial concerns of a few stopped these bills from passing the Senate last session. There’s simply no excuse for stalling on this issue. I will not give up my fight to get these bills passed.”

Key Background Information:

Chairman Rockefeller held a series of hearings last year on the BP oil spill. Two pieces of legislation, the SHORE Act and the Deepwater Horizon Survivors’ Fairness Act, grew out of these hearings. 

The SHORE Act will improve the ability of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Coast Guard and the coastal States to prevent and respond to oil spills. It will make sure that NOAA—the agency responsible for the health of America’s coastal waters—is at the table when oil and gas permitting decisions are made. It will also establish long-term Gulf restoration and monitoring programs and authorize a citizen advisory committee to act as a watchdog over the oil and gas industry in the Gulf.

The Deepwater Horizon Survivors’ Fairness Act will fix loopholes in liability statutes so that families of Deepwater Horizon victims can receive the same compensation available to survivors of those injured or killed in accidents on land. It will correct inequities in the law to make sure the victims of these families are cared for and treated fairly.

For more information about the SHORE Act, click here.

For more information about the Deepwater Horizon Survivors’ Fairness Act, click here.