Response to the Gulf Oil Spill

Coast Guard ResponseI am gravely concerned about the oil spill disaster that occurred in the Gulf of Mexico and the economic and environmental destruction it has caused.  Federal, state and local governments have worked around the clock to stop and clean up the oil spill in the Gulf Coast.  Although the United States Coast Guard is charged with overseeing the response effort, every federal agency that is capable of assisting on this major national issue is at work.  Through hearings, legislation and funding, the Senate too is working very hard to address the multitude of issues which are the result of the oil spill.

Although no one can ever truly be compensated for the losses which resulted from the April 20th incident, including the tragic loss of eleven lives, it is vitally important that the responsible parties are held accountable.  For this reason, I cosponsored the Big Oil Bailout Prevention Liability Act of 2010, which requires polluters to pay the full cost of oil spills.  Among other things, the Big Oil Bailout Prevention Liability Act raises the liability cap from $75 million to $10 billion.  

I am also concerned that Transocean Limited, the owner of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, might be trying to decrease its corporate funds to make it more difficult for individuals to pursue liability against the company.  This is unacceptable.  On May 24, 2010, I cosigned a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder urging him to investigate the corporate actions of Transocean after it announced its plans to distribute $1 billion to its share holders at a time when it may be responsible for financial damages related to the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.  

To date, more than 22,000 personnel have responded to protect the shoreline and wildlife and more than 1,300 vessels have responded on site, including skimmers, tugs, barges, and recovery vessels to assist in containment and cleanup efforts.  I understand that some Pennsylvanians do not want BP engaged in the efforts to stop the spill; however, due to its equipment and knowledge, BP has an obligation to help respond to and fix this disaster.

The April 20th incident in the Gulf brought into sharp focus the need for Congress to revisit policies regarding the development of our domestic energy resources.  The Senate has conducted and will continue to conduct many hearings related to the April 20th incident.  The information acquired at hearings and through investigations regarding the Deepwater Horizon oil rig is crucial to the Senate’s development of its legislative response and its reevaluation of national energy policy.  I have followed the situation in the Gulf very closely and will continue to do so.  I am committed to protecting our natural resources, enforcing liability, and providing aid to affected communities.  

Immediately recognizing the gravity of the April 20th incident, the Coast Guard established a Regional Command Center and Joint Information Center.  To access the latest updates from those on the ground, I recommend that you visit the Regional Command Center and Joint Information Center’s website at

Gulf of Mexico