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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Marco Rubio says oil spill commission goals are good, 'unreasonable' regulation is not



Sen. Marco Rubio reacted cautiously to today's report and call for changes after the BP oil spill, thanking Bob Graham and others for their work to determine what steps can be taken "to prevent a similar tragedy from ever happening again."

“My guiding principle on this issue has always been to strike the right balance between sensible safety measures that will prevent a similar oil spill from ever happening again, versus unreasonable regulations that ultimately ensure we continue to be unnecessarily and dangerously dependent on foreign oil," Rubio said. "I've always said that, so long as it can be done safely, I support offshore energy exploration as a way to meet our energy needs, create jobs and reduce our dependency on foreign oil from unstable countries."

Sen. Bill Nelson, a Democrat, took a more forceful approach to the industry. “The report confirms my longstanding concerns about a lack of industry safeguards, poor regulatory oversight and our limited response capabilities," he said. "So, I’m going to keep pushing for raising the liability limits to make sure polluters, not the taxpayers, foot the bill; and, to fix the ways we prevent and respond to spills.  I’m also going to try to persuade enough of my colleagues in Congress to join with me.  And, I’m going to continue to fight any industry effort to place oil rigs off Florida’s coast.”

Rubio continued: “In the coming days and weeks, I will begin consulting stakeholders about the impact these recommendations would have.  I encourage Floridians who would be significantly impacted by such measures to contact my office to share their opinions about how such policies would, for better or worse, impact their businesses and livelihoods.

“While this report is an important starting point for a serious public policy discussion, we can’t forget the damaging impact the oil spill had on Florida’s Gulf Coast economy.  I look forward to continuing my conversation with local officials, residents and employers about the unique economic challenges they continue to face and how the federal government can assist them.”

Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa:

The Commission’s recommendation is a sound one – and one I already have outlined in the Gulf of Mexico Economic and Environmental Restoration Act. We must dedicate 80 percent of the Clean Water Act penalties to long-term restoration of the Gulf coast,” Castor said. “The Gulf of Mexico is an environmental and economic gem that was tragically affected by the oil disaster. We must continue to battle the perception problem that continues to haunt hotels, motels and Florida seafood. And taxpayers cannot be on the hook for one dime of this disaster’s damage. The fines collected must go directly to restoring our coast.”

According to the commission’s report, the maximum civil penalties under the Clean Water Act could range from $4.5 billion to $21 billion. The amount will be based on the number of barrels of oil spilled and whether there was negligence.

“It has always appeared to me that negligence was a factor,” Castor said. “As the report states, ‘the immediate causes of the Macondo well blowout can be traced to a series of identifiable mistakes made by BP, Halliburton and Transocean that reveal such systematic failures in risk management that they place in doubt the safety culture of the entire industry.’ If negligence is found, that could result in more money being dedicated to restoring the Gulf.”

Castor continued: “This type of systemic failure in the oil industry and its regulators further proves that the Obama Administration was right to announce last month what my neighbors in the Tampa Bay area and I have always maintained - no new drilling should be allowed in the eastern Gulf of Mexico. We should never permit drilling even one mile closer to our beautiful shores.”


[Last modified: Tuesday, January 11, 2011 4:55pm]


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