June 28, 2011

ONE YEAR AFTER THE WORST OIL SPILL IN U.S. HISTORY, CARDIN SAYS BEST PRACTICES MUST GUIDE RESTORATION OF GULF REGION

Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD), Chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Water and Wildlife, today restated that BP and others would be held responsible for the immediate and long-term damage caused by the Deepwater Horizon spill last year. Senator Cardin today chaired a hearing to review the status of the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA), including an examination of research findings to date and the successes and shortcomings of the NRDA process.  The Subcommittee heard testimony from key federal representatives, independent researchers and states within the spill-affected area.

“We cannot undo the damage that has been done. But through the natural resource damage assessment and subsequent restoration efforts, we can employ best practices to minimize impacts and ensure an effective, thorough restoration,” said Senator Cardin. “We will do everything in our power to ensure that this process is of the highest quality and that it ultimately results in a settlement that fully repairs all of the damages the Gulf region has suffered due to this tragic spill, providing hope for people living throughout the Gulf region that their environment and way of life will soon be restored.”

On April 20, 2010, the offshore drilling rig Deepwater Horizon exploded, triggering the largest accidental marine oil spill in history. Oil gushed from the well for 87 days, releasing 4.9 million barrels of oil.  That is almost 20 times the Exxon Valdez oil spill. The catastrophe claimed 11 lives and left thousands of others in turmoil across Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. 

The spill has been referred to as the “worst environmental disaster the US has faced.” With oil covering over 3,000 miles of oceans, impacts on water and wildlife are substantial. Oil contamination killed thousands of birds in addition to many mammals and sea turtles. Those who depend on the region’s natural resources for their livelihoods were also impacted.

As Chairman of this Subcommittee, Senator Cardin visited the Gulf and saw first-hand the devastating environmental and economic impacts of this oil disaster.  “What I witnessed was only the beginning.  Evaluating the impacts of oil and hazardous substance on the Gulf’s complex ecosystems is no simple task and the long-term impacts on the Gulf waters continue to emerge.”

The Natural Resource Damage Assessment is the legal process by which federal and state agencies identify impacts on natural resources, how to best restore them, and the costs for achieving restoration.  Under Federal Law, BP and its partners are liable for the catastrophic damages caused by the Deepwater Horizon spill. While the statutory liability cap for the spill is a mere $75 million, BP has agreed to pay in full, and has already committed $1 billion in advance for restoration projects.

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