TRANSPORTATION COMMITTEE ADOPTS LIPINSKI’S AMENDMENT TO HELP PREVENT OIL SPILLS BY REQUIRING DRILLERS TO PERFORM A DETAILED ANALYSIS OF FAILURE RISK
(July 6, 2010) On Thursday, Congressman Dan Lipinski (IL-3) successfully added an amendment to the Oil Spill Accountability and Environmental Protection Act, H.R. 5629, to help prevent catastrophic oil spills like the one in the Gulf of Mexico and make sure oil companies and the federal government are better prepared to deal with any future spills. H.R. 5629 passed the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, of which Congressman Lipinski is the sole Chicago-area member, on a voice vote.
Congressman Lipinski's measure, which was included in the manager's amendment, requires oil companies to base their oil spill response plans on a formal analysis identifying all technical and human risks to an oil-drilling operation. The amendment spells out precisely what such an analysis must contain, including a quantification of risks and the steps that will be taken to reduce those risks. Companies would be required to make their analyses publicly available.
"Everything we have learned about the Deepwater Horizon's management and operations leading up to the April 20 explosion suggests BP and the companies working under it disregarded safety and failed to adequately address the enormous risks they were taking," Congressman Lipinski said. "It's also clear that the federal government did not do enough to protect the public, and was ill-prepared for a spill of this nature and magnitude. If we're going to prevent future such catastrophes, we need to force oil companies to undertake a thorough analysis of the risk of a disaster, fully prepare for a worst-case scenario, and share their plans with regulators and the public. In the case of the Deepwater Horizon, it seems a combination of management and technical failures was to blame. Having been trained as an engineer, I think it's simply common sense to assess both types of vulnerabilities, particularly when the consequences of not doing so can impact millions of people, destroy lives, and do long-lasting damage to valuable natural resources."
H.R. 5629 removes the outdated liability limitation for off-shore drilling rigs, eliminates loopholes in safety regulations, and improves oversight of safety aboard drilling rigs. The bill grows out of the Committee's examination of the explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon, which tragically resulted in the deaths of 11 people. The resulting spill now stands as the largest in American history.
"The Gulf oil spill is a disaster of historic proportions," Congressman Lipinski. "As we work to clean up the oil, stop its flow into the Gulf, and aid those affected, it's critical that we act quickly to ensure nothing like this ever happens again. Doing so involves making it clear to oil companies that they will be financially liable for their mistakes, as well as implementing reforms to dramatically improve government oversight of offshore drilling. This bill makes important strides in both areas, and I look forward to supporting further efforts to deal with this spill and protect American taxpayers."
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