Saturday, June 19, 2010

Tragedy in the Gulf

By Congressman Bob Goodlatte
R-VA 6th District

Nearly two months ago an explosion occurred on the Deepwater Horizon oil drilling rig off the coast of Louisiana in the Gulf of Mexico. This explosion, which tragically took the lives of eleven hard working Americans, resulted in an environmental catastrophe like we have never seen before. The oil spill continues to have an enormous impact on the Gulf Coast region, its economy, and the environment.

Our first priority must be to stop the leak and do everything possible to preserve the livelihoods of those in the area. The most recent estimates suggest that between 40 million and 115 million gallons of oil have been spilled into the Gulf. This far exceeds the Exxon Valdez disaster. While all of the initial attempts to stop the leak have failed, BP has been successful in containing approximately 15,000 barrels of oil per day while they drill two relief wells which should stop the leak altogether.

The U.S. Coast Guard has already deemed both Transocean, the owner of the Deepwater Horizon rig, and BP, the owner of the well that was being drilled at the time of the explosion, at fault in this horrific accident. This means that Transocean and BP are responsible, under U.S. law, for one hundred percent of all cleanup costs, including those incurred by any government agencies. American taxpayers shouldn’t pay a dime.

I continue to have grave concerns regarding the Federal government’s slow response to this disaster. The effort has been disorganized and distracted from the beginning, and it hasn’t provided the effective, energetic, hands-on leadership that is necessary during a crisis.

I also have strong concerns about the Administration’s recent announcement that there will be a six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling. This will have a devastating economic impact on the Gulf Coast communities who are already suffering. Deepwater wells generate 80 percent of the Gulf's oil production and 45 percent of its natural gas. The moratorium will affect 33 oil rigs and companies have already started moving those rigs out of the Gulf to foreign waters where they are allowed to drill. Some reports have estimated that the moratorium on offshore drilling could result in the loss of as many as 120,000 jobs. In an already struggling economy this will have a devastating effect. It will also immediately make us far more dependent on foreign oil and the environmental risk that comes with many more oil tankers bringing oil from foreign countries into U.S. waters.

It is important that we learn from this disaster to strengthen the safety and security of oil and natural gas exploration and production. Our country needs to become energy independent and cutting off our access to these supplies is not the answer.

I remain committed to finding solutions to lessen our reliance on foreign energy, and allow us to become energy independent. A comprehensive energy policy which encourages environmentally-responsible exploration, innovation, and conservation is the only way to lower energy prices for the long term for consumers and create millions of new jobs.

To contact me about this or any other matter, please visit my website at

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