"BP Spill Bill" Unveiled


Photo via Boston

Since comprehensive climate and energy reform has gone the way of the buffalo, it's time to look at the bills being rolled out in the Senate and House to tackle the BP spill. The Senate's measures are included in the limp 'energy package' they rolled out last week, and the House just unveiled its spill bill today. To be sure, this bill does a number of important things -- certainly nothing nearly as important as reducing the nation's carbon emissions or stimulating renewable energy development, or course. But here's what it'll do to address the BP Gulf spill: Mostly, it will attempt to improve oversight of drilling operations, and seek to regulate procedure more strictly. It will also wipe away the liability caps, so that oil companies who devastate economies and ecosystems will be held fully financially accountable.

Kate Sheppard ticks of the details of the new BP spill bill unveiled in the Senate today over at Mother Jones:


  • Eliminates the $75 million liability cap for offshore oil spills.

  • Amends the Death on High Seas Act to eliminate the cap on liability for workers who die at sea.

  • Repeals the Limitation of Shipowner's Liability Act of 1851, which Deepwater Horizon owner Transocean tried to use to curb its liability for the incident.

  • Holds oil company CEOs accountable for safety failures on rigs and drilling operations.

  • Sets tougher standards for inspection of blowout preventers and other equipment intended to shut off wells in the event of an emergency, and require independent certification by a third party.

  • Requires more layers of redundancy on safety equipment to close wells in case of an accident.

  • Sets new standards for the cementing and casing of wells.

  • Raises penalties for safety violations.

  • Requires all companies drilling in the outer continental shelf to pay royalties on oil and gas, a measure that sponsors say would bring in $53 billion dollars in lost revenue over 25 years.

  • Ends the practice of granting categorical exclusions to detailed environmental analysis for offshore operations.

  • Adds protections for whistleblowers who call attention to safety violations in oil and gas operations.

  • Bars companies with poor safety record from obtaining new leases.

Sheppard notes that the most aggressive measure is the last one -- it would just about exempt BP from drilling in the US period. Pretty much all of the other measures are solid, and frankly, should have already been law, given the high risks that come with drilling.


More on the BP Gulf Spill and Energy Reform
The 7 Things That Killed the Climate Bill
Kerry-Lieberman Climate Bill to be Transformed Into BP Spill Bill?

Tags: Congress | Gulf Oil Spill | Oil | Oil Spill | United States

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