House Committee Promises to Respond to California Oil Spill

House Democrats are working quickly to prepare a legislative response to last week’s devastating oil spill off California’s southern coast.

Yesterday, the Chairman of the House Natural Resources Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) Announced that his committee would devote two days next week to looking at the causes and effects of the incident in which a large pipeline produced more than 144,000 gallons of crude oil released into the waters near Huntington Beach, which immediately puts local wetlands and wildlife at risk.

Next Wednesday, Grijalva will face a surcharge of two bills: HR 2643, the “Offshore Pipeline Safety Act” and HR 570, the “Offshore Accountability Act”.

The Offshore Pipeline Safety Act, advocated by Rep. Julia Brownley, D-Calif., Would require the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement to enact regulations to improve supervision of offshore pipelines and ensure that pipelines are equipped with leak detection systems are.

The “Offshore Accountability Act” introduced by Rep. Donald McEachin (D-Va.) Would require that offshore drilling operators report serious safety deficiencies to the Secretary of the Interior, who then has to pass this information on to the public.

The very next day, the House’s Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Natural Resources meets to hold a hearing on the “Impact of Abandoned Offshore Oil and Gas Infrastructure and the Need for Greater Federal Supervision.”

In a press release announcing the new planned events, the Huntington Beach oil spill is outlined as well an April report from the Government Accountability Office, which concluded that BSSE is suffering from inadequate monitoring of both active and decommissioned offshore oil and gas pipelines, as reasons to take action now.

“The oil and gas industry has ignored public health and the environment for decades, and what happens today in Huntington Beach will happen to more American communities until Congress intervenes,” Grijalva said in a statement.

“As long as the industry is given a free hand to act with impunity and shirk responsibility for the chaos it creates and leaves, there will be more disasters. This committee is moving fast to protect our coastlines and the communities that depend on them by setting the standards the industry does not want to set itself. “

While these moves are unlikely to be bipartisan – Republicans often criticize Democrats for imposing what they consider burdensome regulation on the oil and gas sector – Grijalva and the House Democrats are determined to seize this latest oil spill as an opportunity to show the urgency of your agenda at a crucial moment (E&E daily, 5th October).

Last month, the House of Representatives Natural Resources Committee passed its portion of the current $ 3.5 trillion reconciliation package that collects annual fees from offshore pipeline operators and new offshore leases in federal waters in the Pacific and Atlantic as well in the eastern Gulf of Mexico.

Grijalva is in a similar position to other Democrats as he will struggle to keep these provisions in the final product. Democratic leaders in Congress and President Biden have admitted that success in legislation will come with both lower numbers and political concessions to the moderates.

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