Cantwell introduces legislation to protect American coasts from catastrophic oil spills

Washington, D.C. – On April 19, 2018 Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), introduced the Clean Coast Act that codifies rules that were finalized by the Department of the Interior in 2016 to address key safety recommendations made after the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster.

The legislation is cosponsored by Senators Markey (D-Mass.), Menendez (D-N.J.), Van Hollen (D-Md.), Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Wyden (D-Ore.), Shaheen (D-N.H.), Booker (D-N.J.), Reed (D-R.I.), Nelson (D-Fla.), Murray (D-Wash.), Sanders (I-Vt.), Merkley (D-Ore.), Carper (D-Del.), Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Hassan (D-N.H.), Harris (D-Calif.), and Feinstein (D-Calif.).

The BP Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill—a catastrophic human, economic, and ecological disaster—resulted in the death of 11 members of the crew and the injury of 17 others. Oil spewed into the ocean for nearly three months, resulting in the largest offshore oil spill disaster in the history of the United States.

“President Trump has ordered the roll back of common sense solutions to improve safety and prevent oil spills,” said Senator Cantwell. “Friday marks the eighth anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon disaster and today I have introduced legislation to prevent tragedies like that from happening again.”

In April 2017, President Trump issued Executive Order 13795, “Implementing an America-First Offshore Energy Strategy,” directing the Department of the Interior to reconsider the Blowout Preventer Systems and Well Control Rule and the Arctic Drilling Rule in order to encourage and prioritize energy exploration and production.

This legislation codifies the Blowout Preventer Systems and Well Control Rule and the Arctic Drilling Rule:

• Blowout Preventer Systems and Well Control Rule: This rule includes safeguards like minimum requirements for the design, manufacture, repair, and maintenance of blowout preventers; dual shear rams for deepwater blowout preventers; real-time monitoring capability for high-risk drilling activities; and criteria for safe drilling margins consistent with recommendations arising out of the Deepwater Horizon tragedy. The Blowout Preventer Systems and Well Control Rule was finalized in April 2016.

• Arctic Drilling Rule: This rule includes safeguards for drilling activities in the U.S. Arctic Outer Continental Shelf, such as requiring access to appropriate containment and response equipment; ability to drill a relief well within the same season; and capability to predict and respond to ice conditions and adverse weather. The Arctic Drilling Rule was finalized in July 2016.

Read the bill text here.