- Protect people, not oil companies
Protect people, not oil companies
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Last week, BP’s “top kill” effort, in which mud and other objects were forced into the blown-out oil well in the gulf to try and stanch the flow of oil, failed. Now, BP engineers are attempting to stop the gusher on the ocean floor by cutting the breached riser pipe on top of the well and placing a cap over the top of the newly-cut pipe. This strategy, if it fails, will most likely increase the flow of oil coming from the well.
As the failures pile up, attempts to plug the well become riskier and more desperate. And yet, the government doesn’t have any better ideas to stop the spill. For years, officials have been lax on enforcing safety standards and protecting against disasters because they bought oil company assurances that offshore drilling wasn’t dangerous.
Several important bills have recently been introduced into the U.S. Senate to hold BP accountable and prevent spills in the future.
The Big Oil Bailout Prevention Liability Act, sponsored by Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), would raise the liability cap on oil companies from $75 million to $10 billion. This bill would hold BP, or other oil companies, responsible not just for paying the costs of cleaning up their environmental disasters, but also paying for environmental damages and lost revenue from tourism and fishing.
We need to hold BP accountable for their actions in the gulf, and that’s why this bill would be retroactive to April 15, 2010 — five days before the blowout on the Deepwater Horizon. But we can’t just be satisfied with holding BP accountable for this spill alone — we need to act now to make sure that spills like this don’t happen in the future.
That’s why Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has introduced the Clean Coasts and Efficient Cars Act. Not only would this bill ban drilling off the Atlantic coast, Pacific coast, and parts of the Gulf of Mexico, it would raise fuel economy standards to 55 miles per gallon by 2030 — the drastic but achievable action needed to get ourselves off oil.
Senators Menendez and Sanders have it right. We don’t just need to call BP executives before congressional committees to blame them for the spill, we need to pass legislation that holds BP responsible for a true accounting of the damage and hardship they’ve inflicted. We don’t just need to temporarily suspend offshore drilling, we need to end the practice entirely. And we need to take advantage of this moment to pass strong legislation that prevents disasters like this from happening again and sets us on the course to an oil free future.