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STATEMENT: “Offshore drilling must have transparency and accountability.”

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1969_Santa_Barbara_Oil_Spill_CA
Aerial view of the spill from Platform A. After the well was plugged on the rig, the high-pressure oil and gas left the well bore, ripping through the floor of the ocean itself 200 feet (61 m) down; this is causing the surface disturbance to the left of the rig. ©  USGS - Mary C. Rabbittt, 1989, "The United States Geological Survey: 1879-1989," US Geological Survey, Circular 1050, Figure 43, p.43.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The following statement was issued by Ocean Conservancy’s CEO Janis Searles Jones (@InVeritas_Jones) in reaction to the introduction of the Offshore Accountability Act by Rep. Donald McEachin (D-VA) in the U.S. House of Representatives today:

“Ocean Conservancy welcomes the Offshore Accountability Act, introduced by Congressman McEachin (D-VA). The legislation would require transparency and accountability from oil and gas companies to report on critical safety failures on offshore rigs.

“The timing of the bill is important: today marks exactly 51 years after a well blowout on Union Oil’s rig Platform ‘A’ triggered the catastrophic Santa Barbara oil spill. We need to learn from the past to protect the present and future health of our ocean, coasts, communities and wildlife.

“The companies operating in our waters are not held to credible standards when it comes to reporting failures from offshore drilling systems. Currently, safety incident reports from offshore drilling systems—like the blowout preventer system failure that caused the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster in 2010—can be reported to the Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics confidentially and without accountability for remedial action.

“Representative McEachin’s bill addresses the lack of transparency and oversight by requiring these reports to be submitted directly to the U.S. Department of the Interior and equipment manufacturers with a full analysis to determine the cause. Ocean Conservancy is also pleased to note that the bill requires the department to make incident analysis reports publicly available.

“We welcome the spotlight that the Offshore Accountability Act will shine on offshore industry practices. Offshore drilling must have transparency and accountability.”

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Ocean Conservancy experts are available for comment upon request.

NOTES TO EDITOR:

  • In 1969, the Santa Barbara oil spill dumped approximately 4.2 million gallons of crude oil into the Pacific, decimating marine life and coastal livelihoods. It sparked national outrage and spurred action, including passage of the National Environment Protection Act, designed to protect our environment from the tragic impacts of oil spills.
  • In 1989, the Exxon Valdez spilled nearly 11 million gallons of oil into Alaska’s Prince William Sound, which once again shocked the nation and ultimately paved the way for the Oil Pollution Act.
  • In 2010, a blowout on BP Deepwater Horizon cost the lives of eleven people and spewed more than 210 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, becoming the largest oil spill in U.S. waters until the extent of the ongoing Taylor Energy oil spill came to light last year. Unfortunately, this did not stop the Trump Administration from significantly weakening the Blowout Preventer Systems and Well Control regulations put in place by the previous administration.