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Press Releases :: July 21, 2010

Oil Spill Prevention and Response Legislation Passes House

(Washington, DC) – Today, the House of Representatives passed two bills that will improve the ability of the United States to prevent and respond to oil spills. These two pieces of legislation will enhance research for oil spill prevention and cleanup and provide the necessary research to ensure safer, cleaner oil and gas drilling technologies. Together, these bills represent a comprehensive research agenda to enhance U.S. preparedness for future oil spills. 

“The BP disaster has shown all of us that the damage from oil spills can be catastrophic. Unfortunately, technology has advanced little Exxon Valdez oil spill, and today’s responders are left with virtually the same set of tools they had in 1989,” said Chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN).  “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.”
H.R. 2693, the Oil Pollution Research and Development Reauthorization Act, authored by Representative Lynn Woolsey, ensures the ongoing development of new technologies and methods to prevent, recover, and respond to oil spills. The bill also provides for robust oversight and accountability of the interagency research and development program. Furthermore, this legislation sets up a more efficient federal management structure. More specifically, the bill updates and improves upon the Oil Pollution Act of 1990.
“As long as we extract, use, or transport oil in the United States, there will be some risk of oil spills along our shores that will damage our coastlines, marine ecosystems, and fishing and tourism industries,” said Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA). “My bill helps protect the public and the environment through targeted and coordinated research, development, and demonstration that will help us better prevent, combat, and mitigate future oil spills, no matter the size.”
“It is undeniable that the United States needs a more robust research and development strategy to reduce the environmental and economic impacts of oil spills. I stand here today in support of reauthorizing and strengthening the program that funds research to advance our ability to respond to and clean up oil spills,” stated Subcommittee on Energy and Environment Chairman Brian Baird (D-WA).
H.R. 5716, The Safer Oil and Natural Gas Drilling Technology Research and Development Act will make oil and gas drilling safer by supporting research and development of technologies and practices for worker and environmental safety, as well as accident prevention and mitigation. More specifically, the bill amends Section 999 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 which authorized the Secretary of Energy to establish an Ultra-Deepwater and Unconventional Onshore Natural Gas and Other Petroleum Resources research and development program. Some of the areas that will be researched include enhanced well control and integrity, blowout prevention devices, secondary control systems for well shut-off, technologies for accident mitigation, decision-making and risk management, and equipment testing for extreme conditions.
“These two bills help to ensure the federal government, industry, and academia are all better equipped to prevent and respond in the future. I am proud that the Science and Technology Committee has taken the lead by bringing forth legislation to address this critical situation,” said Chairman Gordon.
The House also passed H.Con.Res. 292 - Supporting the goals and ideals of National Aerospace Week, sponsored by Subcommittee on Research and Science Education Ranking Member Rep. Vern Ehlers (R-MI).
For more information on the Committee’s work on the oil spill, please visit our website.

News from the House Science and Technology Committee
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