Both House and Senate Oil Spill Measures Take Needed Steps, Should Be Enacted Into Law Quickly

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Angela Bradbery abradbery@citizen.org 202-588-7741

Both House and Senate Oil Spill Measures Take Needed Steps, Should Be Enacted Into Law Quickly

Statement of Tyson Slocum, Director, Public Citizen’s Energy Program

WASHINGTON - The clock is ticking, but the Senate shouldn't delay: Senate
lawmakers should pass oil spill legislation this week before leaving
town for the August recess.

The BP disaster in the Gulf has highlighted not only the high price
tag attached to our addiction to oil but also failings in the way the
government deals with oil companies. Bills introduced in both the House
of Representatives (H.R. 3543) and Senate (S. 3663) would tackle the
latter and throw in some green energy provisions as well. Ultimately,
the provisions in both bills should be included in a final law.

Both measures would rightly abolish the existing $75 million cap for
oil companies' liability for spills and restructure the agency formerly
known as the Minerals Management Service. The Senate bill would provide
tax credits to promote natural gas-fueled vehicles and plug-in electric
vehicles, and would provide money for the "Home Star" program to
encourage people to retrofit their homes with more efficient appliances.

The House bill, which was approved last week, would reform the
royalty system to ensure oil companies pay their fair share to taxpayers
for use of public land, set new safety standards for blowout preventers
and establish a conservation fee that would be used for land and water
conservation.

Neither measure is a substitute for climate change legislation, which
is desperately needed. We must wean ourselves off fossil fuels.

But the provisions in both these bills are needed. We urge the Senate
to pass its bill and for both chambers to then pass reconciled
legislation containing the measures in both the House and Senate bills.

The oil industry's dominance in Congress is one of the worst examples
of corporate interests hijacking the legislative process. These reforms
are a good start in reining in this industry. In the future, Congress
should not wait for a catastrophic event to enact reforms and policies
to protect people and hold polluting industries accountable.

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Public Citizen is a national, nonprofit consumer advocacy organization founded in 1971 to represent consumer interests in Congress, the executive branch and the courts.

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