Statements and Speeches

“As I have mentioned before, our hearts go out to the folks impacted by this terrible accident – to the families of the eleven workers that died and those that were injured. And our hearts also go out to the thousands of workers, individuals and families in the Gulf of Mexico who depend on the Gulf’s waters and shores for their economic livelihood.
“As a member from a coastal state, I understand well the importance of our shorelines to our local and national economies. Our oceans and shores give life to many, many industries: tourism and recreation, the fishing industry, transportation, construction, research and education, real estate, and many, many more. And so we must work to make sure that the laws and regulations that we have in place protect these critical industries from harm in a fair and real way.

“One of the lessons that I have learned as Chairman of the Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety where I oversee the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, is the importance of effective regulatory oversight to ensure that we avert future accidents in the first place. Through strong oversight and research, I hope we can develop greener, more effective response measures going forward.

“With the unprecedented amounts of oil leaked, and the unprecedented efforts used to clean up the oil, safeguarding public health and the health of our ecosystems is a very real concern.  Despite the best efforts of our nation’s best environmental scientists—some of whom are here today—to help us understand the environmental impacts of this spill, the reality is that we do not know, and we may not know for years to come, the long-term effects of this disaster.

“Specifically, I look forward today to hearing more about the EPA’s efforts to oversee the deployment of chemical dispersants currently being used to clean up the oil in the Gulf. On one hand, my understanding is that the impact of oil on our shores would have been much greater without dispersants.  On the other hand, much is still unknown about the impacts of these dispersants over the long-term.
“I want to hear from the talented and distinguished scientists we have assembled what their best understanding is of the impact that these underwater dispersants are having on our marine life, as well as their potential impact on human health. While I firmly believe that we must use all the resources at our disposal to mitigate the effects of this disaster, I feel strongly that we must do so prudently and with the best information at our disposal. 
“Today, I hope we will discuss what steps the federal government can take to minimize the damage of this spill, to prevent an accident from occurring again in the first place through effective regulatory oversight, and to ensure the safe and effective use and advancement of tools at our disposal to clean up the oil.”