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Murkowski Comments on Final Report from Deepwater Horizon Spill Commission


WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today made the following comments on the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Commission’s final report during a hearing before the Energy and Natural Resources Committee:

“Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for convening this hearing.  I had hoped to be able to welcome our new members today, but, unfortunately, we are still waiting for assignments to be made.  Attending our hearings is always educational and worthwhile.  I understand the Chairman’s desire to have this hearing on a timely basis, but I also observe that this issue is a difficult and complex one.  I believe that, once the Committee has been fully organized, we will need to ensure that every member of the Committee has an opportunity to not only hear, but ask questions and express their views on these matters.  Every one of our constituents uses energy, and they rely on us to help make sure it is affordable, secure, and increasingly clean.

“The past year was challenging on many fronts, and I don’t think anyone on this committee would ever want to relive the events of last spring and summer.  We lost 11 men, we lost the oil rig they worked on, and oil was released into the Gulf of Mexico for 87 days.  I’ve said before that this terrible tragedy brought back the worst memories of the Valdez spill in Alaska, twenty years earlier.  Last year’s spill was stopped in mid-July, but it remains appropriate for us to help those impacted by it, and to seek to prevent future disasters.

“Along those lines I’ll point out that, as this hearing’s background memo notes, there are four other prominent reports on the Deepwater Horizon incident:

  • One from the Joint Department of Interior/Homeland Security investigation;
  • A 30-Day Report from the Department of the Interior’s Safety Oversight Board;
  • The National Academy of Engineering Report, which isn’t due until March, and
  • Finally, there’s BP’s internal report, which came out last fall.

“As expected, these reports are not perfectly congruent.  That leaves a lot of work for us to do up here in seeing where there is agreement among these conclusions and where there might be more need for inquiry.

“Another item I hope we will at least informally agree on today is a threefold pledge regarding our offshore policy: that no victim of a spill should ever go uncompensated, that taxpayers should never be on the hook for a company’s damages, and that these priorities are managed in a way that not only preserves, but also promotes a competitive domestic offshore industry.  That should be agreeable and achievable for all of us.

“One of the true ironies and tragedies of the Gulf disaster was that it both opened and reopened such horrific wounds for the fishermen and others who saw their livelihoods compromised by its sudden impact.  These effects were brought first by the oil spill, and later by the administration’s moratorium on offshore drilling, which has cost thousands of jobs and had a chilling effect on our nation’s energy policy.  We have to begin confronting those choices today.

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