With the one year anniversary of the BP oil disaster approaching in April, Gulf Coast communities are still waiting for action from Congress. I am grateful for the work the National Oil Spill Commission and its staff did to recommend a plan for action that includes many elements supported by environmental and community groups, now Congress must implement it.
In particular, the establishment of a Gulf of Mexico Regional Citizens Advisory Council will give Gulf Coast residents a voice in oil industry decisions. Directing that 80 percent of Clean Water Act fines from the BP disaster must be used for ecological restoration in the Gulf Coast, where a Public Advisory Committee will have a say in their use, will ensure that affected communities have the resources and input necessary for restoration. Last, regulatory reforms that increase environmental and safety protections, while also strengthening industry accountability and emergency preparedness, are essential to prevent future oil drilling disasters on U.S. coasts.
I urge you to act quickly on the Oil Spill Commission's recommendations to both support necessary restoration in the Gulf Coast and to protect our shores from Big Oil negligence.
January 12, 2011 10:54 AM Subject: Constituent Response From Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison
Thank you for contacting me regarding the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. I welcome your thoughts and comments.
The Deepwater Horizon caught fire on April 20, 2010 after an explosion. It sank into 5,000 feet in the Gulf. Nearly four months after oil began leaking into the ocean, BP has temporarily capped the well. However, the well will not be permanently sealed until BP can complete its relief well and the damaged well can be pumped full of cement.
In early July, “tar balls” washed ashore in the Galveston area. This resulted in minimal damage. My staff coordinated with the U.S. Coast Guard, the Texas General Land Office and the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) to determine whether more oil was making its way to the shores of Texas. I am happy to report that the Coast Guard and the DOI determined that the tar balls had clung to a ship responding to the clean up and oil slicks were not expected to wash onto our Texas shores.
In light of the spill, BP has set up a $20 billion escrow fund to pay clean-up costs and damage claims to people impacted by the oil leak. The $20 billion escrow account is currently managed by President Obama's pay czar, Mr. Kenneth Feinberg. To date, BP has paid more than $6 million worth of claims to Texans. This month, I met with the Chairman and President of BP, Mr. Lamar McKay, to ensure BP paid all legitimate claims to those impacted by the oil spill.
This disaster demonstrated that BP and the Administration lacked a clear and effective response plan. The oil may be temporarily halted; however this disaster is far from over. Until all claims are satisfied and the tragic reminders of this spill are gone, I will continue to hold BP responsible.
I believe that responsible legislation is required to prevent an event like this from occurring in the future. In order accomplish this, industry and lawmakers from both sides of the aisle must work together to guarantee that proper safeguards are in place. I am committed to work with my colleagues to develop sensible legislation that will address safety concerns, without putting our nation’s domestic energy suppliers out of business.
If you have any problems with your claims to BP, or any other problems related to the oil spill, please contact one of my local offices so we may best assist you. A complete list of my state offices can be found at http://hutchison.senate.gov/offices.html
You may be certain I will keep your views on the Gulf oil spill in mind. I appreciate hearing from you, and I hope that you will not hesitate to contact me on any issue that is important to you.
Kay Bailey Hutchison
United States Senator
Should someone let Washington know that the well was sealed, and then stick around to teach geography? Not to mention that the letter was about the spill commission findings, not about how to process a claim.