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Pelosi on Oil Spill Package: 'We Must Change Course and Do What We Can to Help the Gulf Recover and Rebuild'

Washington, D.C. - Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke on the House floor this afternoon in support of two pieces of legislation in response to the disastrous BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.  The two bills on the floor are the: Consolidated Land, Energy, and Aquatic Resources Act (CLEAR Act) and the Offshore Oil and Gas Worker Whistleblower Protection Act.   Below are the Speaker's remarks on the House floor. The House is expected to vote on the bills later today.

“Thank you, Mr. Speaker.  I rise in support of the updated Consolidated Land, Energy, and Aquatic Resources Act -- the CLEAR Act -- and thank the gentleman for yielding time on this important subject.  I'm very proud of it and other legislation to ensure a continued, strong response to the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.  In passing these bills today, we will uphold our commitment to America's families and businesses: to rebuild the Gulf Coast and make local families whole, and to help ensure that a spill of this size and scope never happens again.

“The CLEAR Act responds to BP's oil spill not simply with criticism, and in fact, we waited an amount of time so we could get the facts, make the judgment, write the legislation that is responsible and targeted.  Visionary that he is, Mr. Rahall, one year ago, began work on this legislation in the Natural Resources Committee and we have benefitted from the work that his committee -- and that of Energy and Commerce under the leadership of Chairman Waxman and under Transportation and Infrastructure under Mr. Oberstar -- have done in preparation for this, as well as the work of Mr. Miller on Education and Labor.

“This legislation is about safety -- about establishing new safety standards.  Safety for the workers on the rigs and safety for those in the clean-up have been a priority for us in all of the legislation that has come to the floor in response to the spill. 

“It's about integrity -- integrity of the representations made by BP -- whether it's about the effectiveness of the drilling, whether it's about the prevention of a blow-out, or whether it's about the integrity of their representations about the integrity of the clean-up.  What would happen if such a spill were to occur and do we have the technology to clean up? 

“It's also about the integrity of the infrastructure -- that the infrastructure would do what it is designed to do: drill, prevent blow-outs, and of course, respond to it.  So there has been a lack of integrity on both parts in terms of what was --representations that were made and the integrity of the infrastructure.  This legislation addresses that. 

“It's about accountability.  Reforming the Minerals Management Service is really a very important part of this legislation.  Some of this was addressed by President Obama in having an executive order to this effect or administrative policy to this effect.  Now, it is in statute.  Very, very important.  Because that accountability about who sets the standards, about who makes sure that those standards are met -- is very, very important to us honoring our responsibility to the American people. 

“And it's about the families -- and this always comes down to people -- who have suffered so much -- by removing a cap when economic damage is paid by oil companies to residents and small businesses affected by the oil spills.  The CLEAR Act is good for families, our environment, and the health of our natural resources in many ways.  This week, we were informed that it was also good for our budget--saving taxpayers more than $5 billion over the next five years and up to $50 billion over the next 25 years according to the Government Accountability Office.  This first five year figure was according to the Congressional Budget Office. 

“This measure is just one component of the broader package of actions we are taking to hold BP accountable, support the families and businesses of the Gulf Coast, and prevent and prepare for future disasters -- hopefully avoiding them.  Today, we will vote on the Offshore Oil and Gas Worker Whistleblower Protection Act, which was debated earlier and managed by Mr. Miller -- to protect workers who put the people's interest first, speak up and inform state and federal authorities of violations or practices that endanger and public and the workers.

“In recent weeks, we have passed the Oil Pollution Research and Development Program Reauthorization Act -- to develop new methods and technologies to clean up oil spills.  That's under the leadership of Chairman Bart Gordon of the Science and Technology Committee.  He also presented the Safer Oil and Natural Gas Drilling Technology Research and Development Program to develop safer drilling technologies and prevent future oil spill disasters.  One of them was the Gordon Act, one was the Woolsey Act. 

“The SPILL Act is one that was passed maybe a month ago, amending the Death on the High Seas Act to ensure fair compensation for the families of those killed or injured in the BP spill.  Many of us were humbled and honored to receive the families of those who lost their lives at the time of the explosion -- at the time of this disaster.  They came here, they talked about their family members that they had lost: they are the backbone of America -- they worked hard, played by the rules.  They came here, really using their suffering -- and I say that in the best possible way -- to help others.  Their generosity of spirit insists that we turn this into the law, but also, to help those families and other families. 

“We passed legislation to give subpoena power to the President's oil spill commission and permit the Coast Guard to obtain needed resources from the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund to help with clean-up costs.  Thank you, Mr. Cummings. 

“I'd like, again, to acknowledge Chairmen Nick Rahall, Jim Oberstar, Henry Waxman, Ed Markey, and George Miller -- for their leadership on this package of bills that we have before us today.  And Bart Gordon -- for what we have done before. 

“In the wake BP oil spill, Members from both parties should agree that the current system is not working for the American people.  As their representatives and their leaders, we must change course.  We must do what we can to help the Gulf recover and rebuild. 

“I urge all of my colleagues to vote ‘aye' on this critical oil spill response legislation and yield back the balance of my time.”