Cantwell urges oil spill cleanup upgrades

July 21, 2010 at 4:15 PM
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WASHINGTON, July 21 (UPI) -- U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., said Wednesday the government must require the oil industry to incorporate new technology into its spill response plans.

"The Deepwater Horizon oil spill has revealed a huge disparity between our nation's ability to extract oil versus our ability to respond to an oil spill," Cantwell, chairwoman of the Senate Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries and Coast Guard, said at a hearing Wednesday.

"Our primary response technologies -- skimmers, in situ burns, boom and chemical dispersants -- were all developed decades ago, while exploration and drilling technology has advanced at a rapid pace due to heavy investment by the oil and gas industry. There is much more we can do to improve oil spill response, beginning with jump-starting oil spill technology research and development. Deepwater Horizon isn't a Gulf of Mexico tragedy; it's an American tragedy. And it is up to us to ensure that America's waters and shores are protected with the best technology available."

On July 15, Cantwell introduced the Oil Spill Technology and Research Act, which would require new technologies to be used in cleanup operations. That bill is now part of Commerce Committee Chairman Sen. Jay Rockefeller's Securing Health for Ocean Resources and Environment Act and is scheduled for committee markup Thursday. The bill's provisions include the establishment of a federal Oil Spill Research Committee and the creation of a comprehensive oil spill research and development program.

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