Nelson, Menendez, and Lautenberg Request Joint Hearing on Oil Rig Explosion and Spill

Nelson, Menendez, and Lautenberg Request Joint Hearing on Oil Rig Explosion and Spill

Senators seek to examine what happened and whether Coast Guard and NOAA are equipped to contain this and future spills

Washington - As a result of last week's major oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico, 42,000 gallons of crude oil are being spilled into the water each day, forming a 600 square mile oil slick. Today, U.S. Senators Bill Nelson (D-FL), Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), who represent states that could be affected by spills at current or future oil drilling sites, formally requested a joint hearing to examine this particular disaster and whether similar incidents can be prevented in the future. They wrote the Chairs and Ranking Members of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee and the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee to request the hearing.

"Last Tuesday's explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico is a tragedy for the families and friends of the missing and injured workers, and also a sobering reminder of the real risk from oil drilling," wrote the senators. "The explosion, ensuing fire, and continuing spill raise serious concerns about the industry's claims that their operations and technology are safe enough to put rigs in areas that are environmentally sensitive or are critical to tourism or fishing industries. This may be the worst disaster in recent years, but it's certainly not an isolated incident."

PDF of letter to committee heads: http://menendez.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/20100426ltr_OilSpillHrg.pdf

Text of letter:

April 26, 2010

The Honorable John D. Rockefeller The Honorable Kay Bailey Hutchison
Chairman Ranking Member
Senate Committee on Commerce, Science Senate Committee on Commerce, Science
& Transportation & Transportation
508 Dirksen Senate Office Building 508 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510 Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Jeff Bingaman The Honorable Lisa A. Murkowski
Chairman Ranking Member
Senate Committee on Energy & Senate Committee on Energy &
Natural Resources Natural Resources
304 Dirksen Senate Office Building 304 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510 Washington, DC 20510

Dear Chairman Rockefeller, Chairman Bingaman, Ranking Member Hutchison, and Ranking Member Murkowski:

Last Tuesday's explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico is a tragedy for the families and friends of the missing and injured workers, and also a sobering reminder of the real risk from oil drilling. The explosion, ensuing fire, and continuing spill raise serious concerns about the industry's claims that their operations and technology are safe enough to put rigs in areas that are environmentally sensitive or are critical to tourism or fishing industries.

This may be the worst disaster in recent years, but it's certainly not an isolated incident. Before the explosion Tuesday, the Minerals Management Service (MMS) reported 509 fires resulting in at least two fatalities and 12 serious injuries on rigs in the Gulf of Mexico since 2006.
Three federal entities -- the Coast Guard, MMS, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) -- are integrally involved in the response, recovery and restoration operations. We therefore request a joint hearing by the committees that oversee those agencies: the Senate Commerce, Science & Transportation Committee and Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee. We must also examine whether the Coast Guard and NOAA have the resources available to respond to this and future spills.
Thank you for your consideration of this request.

Sincerely,
Bill Nelson
United States Senator

Robert Menendez
United States Senator

Frank R. Lautenberg
United States Senator


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