Woolsey reintroduces federal spill R&D coordination bill

Nick Snow
OGJ Washington Editor

WASHINGTON, DC, Apr. 21 -- US Rep. Lynn C. Woolsey (D-Calif.) reintroduced her bill to make offshore oil responses more effective by coordinating federal interagency research and development more effectively.

A senior Democrat on the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, Woolsey called the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill “first and foremost an act of environmental recklessness and negligence.”

Her comments came on Apr. 20, the first anniversary of the Macondo well blowout off Louisiana.

“We could have been better prepared for a spill of this magnitude,” she said, calling for “advanced technologies to mitigate the damage and a streamlined process to coordinate the clean-up effort.”

She said that under current law, 14 agencies have some jurisdiction over federal investments in oil spill prevention, response, and mitigation research and development.

H.R. 1568 would streamline the committee in charge of coordinating this R&D to include representatives from the US Coast Guard, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the US Environmental Protection Agency, and the US Department of the Interior.

The four agencies having the most expertise would be authorized to lead an effort toward common solutions, working more efficiently, and allow the other 10 agencies to play a lesser role, Woolsey said.

The bill also would double funding for federal oil spill R&D, which has remained flat since 1990, a step recommended by the independent oil spill commission US President Barack Obama formed last year.

“While industry continues to invest heavily in technology that allows it to drill in deeper and deeper waters, we are shortchanging technologies that help prevent, respond to, and mitigate oil spills,” Woolsey said.

A similar bill which she introduced last year unanimously passed the House but was not taken up by the US Senate, she noted.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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