Senator Carper Presses Offshore Drilling Executives for Details Regarding Gulf Oil Spill and Clean Up Efforts

Secures Promise that Taxpayers Will Not be on the Hook for Economic Costs of BP's Spill

WASHINGTON, DC – Today Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) participated in the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee’s hearing examining the issues surround the oil spill in the Gulf, including the impact on the economy and the environment.  Sen. Carper and the committee heard testimony from several corporations involved in the spill, including BP, Halliburton and Transocean. They also heard from experts on the impacts to local economies, fisheries and tourism, as well as wildlife and natural resources.  Sen. Carper questioned the representatives of corporations involved in the spill about the steps they were taking to make sure that any claims made out of the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund are not fraudulent or abusive and to ensure that taxpayers would not be forced to bailout the corporations for costs associated with the spill.


"This hearing was an important first step in getting to the bottom of this horrific spill," said Sen. Carper.  "More work –much more work– remains for Congress and the Administration as we attempt to get this spill under control, clean up the mess its created, investigate the cause of the spill and identify what measures can be put in place to make sure a disaster like this never occurs again.  As we begin this process, we have to be mindful of the people and communities who have been impacted by this accident in the Gulf – to the families of the workers that were injured or died, and to the fishermen that may lose everything.  We have to learn from this disaster and we need to seriously reflect on how we meet our energy needs in this country.  I for one have serious questions about our ability to safely drill offshore in the wake of this devastating spill.  If there is any type of silver lining that we can discern from this hearing it is the assurances that I received today from BP that the American taxpayer will not be left holding the bag for these companies when it comes to paying the bills associated with this spill.  That is small comfort in light of the serious economic and environmental damages that continue to grow in the Gulf, but I for one will be vigilant in ensuring that the public is protected and not forced to pay for the offshore drilling industry’s mistakes." 



A copy of Senator Carper’s statement as prepared for delivery follows: 


I want to thank the Chairman for holding this hearing.  My heart goes out to the folks impacted by this accident in the Gulf – to the families of the workers that were injured or died, and to the fishermen that may lose everything. 


Before the accident in the Gulf, I had been open to limited expansion of offshore drilling as part of comprehensive energy and climate legislation as long as:


o   One – drilling could be done in an environmentally sensitive manner; and 


o   Two – states and neighboring states had a say if drilling occurred near their shores.



Unfortunately, the devastating spill in the Gulf has raised serious questions in my mind about our ability to safely drill offshore.


I support the Administration’s decision to pause any new offshore drilling efforts until the Administration and Congress can investigate this incident fully.


I am also interested in hearing more about President Obama’s proposal to split the agency that oversees offshore oil drilling, the United States Minerals Management Service, into two agencies – one that enforces safety, and one that oversees leases.


We need to put a stop to the leak, clean up the spill, find out what happened, and decide what new safeguards need to be put into place to prevent this type of disaster before we move forward.


From today’s hearing, I want to know why more layers of safety procedures were not in place to protect from failure. 


I want to know what incentives are needed to change the oil industry’s culture into a safety culture.


I also want to ensure any claims made out of the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund aren’t fraudulent or abusive – and if this Committee needs to revisit the liability caps we put into place 20 years ago.


The accident in the Gulf has shown me that our dependence on fossil fuels is much more costly than we ever anticipated.