Deepwater Horizon Explosion and Oil Spill
June 3, 2010
On April 20, 2010 the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, operated by Transocean, under lease from BP, exploded approximately 50 miles off the Louisiana coast killing eleven workers. Currently, the cause of the explosion is thought to be a "blowout" of an exploratory well that was being drilled by the Deepwater Horizon rig. While there have been some explanations offered, it remains unclear why the well's blowout preventer failed. Experts have testified before Congress that the well is now leaking at least 100,000 barrels of oil a day, which is creating an oil slick that spreads over hundreds of miles in the Gulf of Mexico and has reached the shoreline along the Louisiana coast. While BP has assumed primary responsibility for cleaning up the oil spill, they are receiving support from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Department of Homeland Security, and the US Coast Guard, among many other federal agencies.
Importantly, under federal law, BP is responsible for cleanup costs, as well as damages to natural resources and personal property occurring as a result of the spill. Senator McCaskill has and continues to work with her colleagues in the Senate to ensure that this incident is fully investigated. The Senate has held or is scheduled to hold at least a dozen hearings looking into the causes and response to this disaster, including at least two in the Commerce Committee and the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, both on which McCaskill sits. McCaskill has sought answers from the government, BP and Transocean regarding the progress of the response effort, as well as about how BP and the government are handling ideas submitted by outside parties on how to handle the oil spill or cap the gushing oil well. McCaskill has emphasized that the owners and operators of the Deepwater Horizon must be held accountable for their decisions that led to this disaster. She also pressed government officials to ensure that ideas and technology that may be used to help clean up this mess are given due consideration.
On May 13, 2010, McCaskill sent a letter highlighting Missouri technology that may be helpful in the clean-up efforts to the chairs of the four committees responsible for oversight of the response to the spill. McCaskill also continues to connect Missouri companies with the Deepwater Horizon Unified Joint Information Center and has provided referrals on behalf of several Missouri companies that have offered technical assistance or technology to remediate the spill.
The Senate has continued to fight to hold BP responsible for all costs associated with cleaning up this disaster. Several efforts have been made to increase or remove the ‘liability cap' which limits the amount of money BP can be held responsible for paying. McCaskill has pledged to continue fighting for this limit to be increased so that taxpayers do not pay for BP's mess.
Here are some resources for additional information on the disaster and the response efforts:
Deepwater Horizon Unified Joint Response
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Environmental Protection Agency
U.S. Coast Guard
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Additionally, on June 14, 2010 Senator McCaskill along with her Democratic colleagues sent a letter to BP CEO Anthony Hayward demanding that the company complete a timely and cooperative recovery. To learn more about Congress' requests of the company to ensure tax payers are not held responsible, read a copy of the letter below.
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