Mr./Madam Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
On April 20, 2010, an explosion occurred aboard the BP Deepwater Horizon drill rig that claimed the lives of eleven men and resulted in the largest environmental disaster in our nation’s history.
While the flow of oil from the well might have stopped for now, as long as our economy is dependent on oil we risk a similar tragedy happening again. We have a responsibility to ensure that the relevant federal agencies are equipped with the technological, intellectual, and financial resources needed to prevent future oil spills and to effectively respond when they occur.
With that, I am pleased to bring before the House two bills that enhance U.S. preparedness for future oil spills and improve worker safety.
The first bill is H.R. 2693, the Oil Pollution Research and Development Program Reauthorization Act of 2010, introduced by my friend from California, Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey.
This bill was passed out of the Science and Technology Committee last week by unanimous voice vote after considering 21 Member amendments, and it incorporates a few additional changes, partly to address minority concerns raised in the Committee markup.
H.R. 2693 amends the Oil Pollution Act of 1990. In response to the Exxon Valdez oil spill, OPA 90 was enacted to improve the nation's ability to both prevent and mitigate oil spills, including through an interagency research program. Unfortunately, little progress has been made since then, and today’s responders are left with virtually the same set of tools they had in 1989.
Ms. Woolsey recognized this critical shortcoming in the response to the Cosco-Busan oil spill in her district in 2007, and she drafted this amendment to OPA 90 to improve the interagency research program.
The BP Deepwater Horizon tragedy has made the intent of this bill all the more relevant today.
H.R. 2693 enhances the research and development activities, sets up a more efficient federal management structure, and provides for more robust oversight and accountability of the interagency R&D program established in OPA 90.
I would like to thank my colleague from Texas, Mr. Hall, and my other Republican counterparts for working with us to improve this bill. I also commend Ms. Woolsey for her foresight and her commitment to enhancing the nation’s preparedness for oil spills through H.R. 2693.
I reserve the balance of my time.