June 10, 2010

CARDIN, MIKULSKI URGE SWIFT FEDERAL COORDINATION WITH MARYLAND, ATLANTIC COAST STATES ON OIL SPILL READINESS

Senators join bipartisan group of 20 colleagues in requesting communication between federal response agencies and states, as well as development of long-term prediction models

WASHINGTON, DC - U.S. Senators Benjamin L. Cardin and Barbara A. Mikulski (both D-MD) today, in an effort to protect Maryland's economy and heritage, insisted on coordination between the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Department of Commerce with Maryland and other Atlantic Coast states in the event that the BP oil spill reaches the eastern seaboard. In a letter signed with 20 of their Senate colleagues, they asked for:

 

·          Immediate communication with all Atlantic Coast state emergency preparedness agencies to ensure that they can be fully prepared and equipped for the worst case scenario, and

 

·          New science-based, long-term projection models that can help determine the statistical probabilities of oil affecting various parts of the Atlantic Coast.

 

Maryland's senators were joined on the letter by Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Jim Webb (D-VA), Richard Burr (R-NC), Charles Schumer (D-NY), Ted Kaufman (D-DE), Saxby Chambliss (R-SC), Scott Brown (R-MA), Mark Warner (D-VA), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), John Kerry (D-MA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Tom Carper (D-DE), Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), Christopher Dodd (D-CT), Susan Collins (R-ME), Kay Hagan (D-NC), Jack Reed (D-RI), and Olympia Snowe (R-ME).

 

"Our states' beaches are fully open for the summer season, and at this time, the oil spill does not pose an imminent threat to them," wrote the senators. "However, the health of our shores is too important to be left to chance - not only are they natural treasures, but they are also how many families in our coastal communities earn a living. They add billions of dollars to our states' economies, support millions of jobs and bring enjoyment to millions more families from nearby and across the nation. If there is any real risk to these communities from a spill that right now remains thousands of miles away, we need to know as soon as possible. Furthermore, our state agencies that will partner with federal agencies to protect our shores need to be fully prepared with the information and equipment needed to combat the worst case scenario. Such an effort should begin immediately. Thank you for your hard work to protect the Gulf Coast, and we look forward to collaborating with you."

 

The text of the letter follows:

 

June 10, 2010

 

Admiral Thad W. Allen

Commandant, United States Coast Guard

 

The Honorable Janet Napolitano

Secretary, United States Department of Homeland Security

 

The Honorable Gary Locke

Secretary, United States Department of Commerce

 

Dear Admiral Allen, Secretary Napolitano, and Secretary Locke:

 

As United States Senators representing coastal states along the Atlantic seaboard, we are keeping close watch on the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, not only so we can help the residents of that region, but also to assess whether the oil and chemical dispersants might affect the beaches and fisheries in our home states. Some widely-viewed but unofficial projections indicate that parts of the spill could get caught in the Loop Current, which would bring the oil up along the East Coast. This outcome is less than a certainty - it may even be highly unlikely. Nevertheless, we have spoken with residents in our coastal communities who are concerned about the oil and chemical dispersants, and these communities should at the very least be fully prepared for the worst case scenario.

 

To this end, we want the federal government to proactively work to ensure coastal states along the Atlantic seaboard are prepared and to ensure that the public and local governments are given the best science-based information about where the spill might be headed. Specifically, we have two requests:

 

  • We ask that the Department of Homeland Security immediately begin coordinating with all state emergency preparedness agencies along the Atlantic Coast, providing full information about how best to prepare for managing an oil spill and ensuring that these states are properly equipped for the worst-case scenario.

 

  • We ask that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration begin developing and disseminating official, science-based predictions about the long-term direction of the oil spill and chemical dispersants, that NOAA make frequent updates to these projections and that they be publicly available. We appreciate the current projections NOAA develops and posts on its website, but these estimates are limited to a 72-hour period. We fully understand that projecting the spill's direction weeks or months in advance is extremely difficult, but it would be helpful to know the statistical probabilities of oil hitting various Atlantic Coast locations.

 

Our states' beaches are fully open for the summer season, and at this time, the oil spill does not pose an imminent threat to them. However, the health of our shores is too important to be left to chance - not only are they natural treasures, but they are also how many families in our coastal communities earn a living. They add billions of dollars to our states' economies, support millions of jobs and bring enjoyment to millions more families from nearby and across the nation. If there is any real risk to these communities from a spill that right now remains thousands of miles away, we need to know as soon as possible. Furthermore, our state agencies that will partner with federal agencies to protect our shores need to be fully prepared with the information and equipment needed to combat the worst case scenario. Such an effort should begin immediately. Thank you for your hard work to protect the Gulf Coast, and we look forward to collaborating with you.

 

 

 

                                                            Sincerely,

                                                                                   

ROBERT MENENDEZ                                            

BARBARA MIKULSKI

KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND                                       

JIM WEBB    

RICHARD BURR                                                    

CHARLES SCHUMER

TED KAUFMAN

SAXBY CHAMBLISS

SCOTT BROWN

MARK WARNER

JOHNNY ISAKSON

JEANNE SHAHEEN           

JOHN KERRY

SHELDON WHITEHOUSE

TOM CARPER

FRANK LAUTENBERG

CHRISTOPHER DODD

SUSAN COLLINS

KAY HAGAN

JACK REED

OLYMPIA SNOWE

BENJAMIN CARDIN