Congressman Bruce Braley of Waterloo is going on an aerial tour of the Gulf of Mexico later this afternoon to view the oil spill. “To get a better view of what’s happening out on the water and see what’s happening out on the rig site where it collapsed,” Braley says.
Braley is a member of the congressional committee which held a field hearing in Louisiana this earlier today. Braley says it’s discouraging to hear how slow British Petroleum and Deepwater Horizon owner Transocean have been to respond to the disaster.
“We heard compelling testimony from two of the widows who lost their husbands in that rig disaster and learned about some of the challenges they’re addressing,” Braley says. “And then we heard from people whose livelihoods in fishing and shrimping and tourism by this economic and environmental disaster.”
According to Braley, congress is considering a variety of responses. “We’re looking at the liability cap for oil companies who cause a disaster of this magnitude and whether that needs to be raised or eliminated – which is what I favor,” Braley says. “This is an ultra-hazarous activity and if you are going to be responsible for this kind of devastation, you should be responsible for cleaning it up and paying for the consequences.” Braley says the federal agency involved in policing deep-sea drilling needs to be scrutinized, too.
“We…have to look the permitting process that the Minerals Management Service used in not requiring an environmental impact study that included that worst-case scenario of a blowout like we’ve seen here,” Braley says. “There was no study done despite the fact that they predicted there was a 98 percent chance that it would happen over the 40-year period of the lease.” Some Gulf Coast residents have complained the federal government hasn’t been aggressive enough in building barriers to keep the oil from invading beaches and wetland areas. Braley says there is a debate about the “environmental toll” the barriers may pose.
“So there’s some very significant considerations that go into whether that’s feasible, whether it’s smart and whether it will have the desired effect of minimizing the impact,” Braley says. “Those are the types of things that the federal government and the responsible agencies and the responsible party — in this case B.P. — have to be dealing with in conjunction with the state and local officials.”
Braley says it’s important that B.P. lives up to its commitment to pay all the claims associated with this disaster.