Environment TexasPraises House Lifting BP Liability Limit and Investing in Our Treasured Lands and Waters, Pans Hypocrisy of Lifting Deep Water Moratorium

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Environment Texas

Today, the House of Representatives passed legislation responding to the ongoing BP oil spill.  The CLEAR Act (H.R.3534) will require oil companies to pay for environmental damage caused by spills, reform oil drilling oversight, end some loopholes in environmental rules for on-shore oil and gas drilling, and provide permanent funding for land and water conservation.  Before it passed, however, the House added an amendment offered by Representatives Melancon and Childers that would allow deep water drilling to resume before the end of the administration’s six-month moratorium.

Environment Texas’ Luke Metzger issued the following statement in response:

“This bill takes a step forward on holding oil companies accountable for spills, securing funding for treasured lands and making modest reforms for on-shore drilling.  We are extremely disappointed that the bill takes a step backwards in protecting the Gulf Coast by lifting a commonsense timeout for deepwater exploration put in place by the Obama administration.

“The bill will lift the liability cap for damages from oil spills and reform the way oil drilling is permitted and overseen.  It also secures funding for land and water conservation which is crucial for protecting some of America’s most beloved recreation lands, like privately-held land inside Acadia National Park, and the Carbon River Rainforest, adjacent to Mt. Rainier National Park.  When it comes to onshore drilling, the bill will put an end to short-cuts in permitting that allowed an ‘anywhere, anyhow’ approach to drilling and have resulted in high levels of pollution and land degradation.

“The extent of the BP oil spill made clear that the oil industry is not capable of preventing and cleaning up a catastrophic oil spill.  The hypocritical amendment that allows oil companies to resume deepwater drilling in the Gulf before we’ve even seen the final recommendations from a six month safety review is like putting a drunk back in the driver’s seat after handing him a cup of coffee.