SEEC backs bills to clean & restore Gulf, hold BP accountable & enact stronger drilling regulations

WASHINGTON, DC -- Today the Congressional Sustainable Energy & Environment Coalition (SEEC) announced its endorsement of legislation in response to the BP Gulf of Mexico oil spill- the largest environmental disaster in American history.

WASHINGTON, DC -- Today the Congressional Sustainable Energy & Environment Coalition (SEEC) announced its endorsement of legislation in response to the BP Gulf of Mexico oil spill- the largest environmental disaster in American history. SEEC announced its support for legislative proposals to put Americans to work cleaning and restoring the Gulf; increase the liability cap for economic damage claims resulting from oil spills; assess royalty payments on spilled oil; and strengthen environmental and technological rig safety, spill prevention and response standards.

The 54-member House caucus also echoed the President's call for a new direction in domestic energy policy that will focus on clean, made-in-America energy technologies and reducing U.S. oil dependence. Highlighting this disaster as a symptom of a failing domestic energy policy, SEEC again called upon the Senate to pass comprehensive clean energy legislation to reduce American oil dependence and create millions of jobs. The caucus also announced its support for repealing wasteful tax subsidies for the oil and gas industry.

SEEC co-chairs Reps. Jay Inslee (D-WA) and Steve Israel (D-NY), with SEEC vice chairs Reps. Rush Holt (D-NJ), Gerry Connolly (D-VA), Chellie Pingree (D-ME), & Paul Tonko (D-NY), jointly released the following statement on behalf of the caucus:

"In the wake of this tragedy the Sustainable Energy & Environment Coalition pledges its full support for restoring the communities and ecosystems of the Gulf Coast. We urge action to ensure that industry is held accountable for the economic and environmental consequences of its spill, and to provide stronger regulations and standards for offshore drilling practices to help prevent future disasters. We commend Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Hoyer for their call for expeditious congressional response, and look forward to working with them and others in the House to respond to this crisis.

"The primary lesson of this catastrophe is that our American energy policy is fatally flawed. We cannot continue to rely upon finite, dirty energy resources that endanger American communities, pollute our planet, and force us to send $1 billion overseas every day. America holds just 2 percent of the world's oil reserves, and accounts for 25 percent of global consumption. Offshore drilling is not the answer to our energy needs and this disaster serves to remind us of its very real dangers.

"We call upon the Senate to enact comprehensive energy and climate legislation consistent with the American Clean Energy & Security Act passed by the House last year. This legislation would put America in control of its energy future, reduce our oil dependence, and create 1.9 million jobs in the domestic clean energy industries of the twenty-first century.

"Further, we advocate for the repeal of wasteful tax subsidies for large oil and gas companies, and for increased investments in domestic clean energy innovation and deployment. The federal government should cease its unnecessary support of profitable, entrenched, dirty energy industries and instead invest in made-in-America clean energy technologies including clean transportation alternatives that further reduce our dependence on oil."

SEEC announced its support for legislation to:

• Create a ‘Gulf Coast Community Conservation Corps' and expand the Workforce Investment Act to put Americans to work cleaning & restoring the Gulf Coast. (Gulf Coast Restoration Act*, Reps. Jim McDermott, Steve Israel, Jim Himes, Gerry Connolly, & Jim Langevin)

• Raise the liability claims limit to hold responsible companies accountable for the costs resulting from this unprecedented spill. (Big Oil Bailout Prevention Act, H.R. 5214, Rep. Rush Holt)

• Hold BP accountable for royalty payments on the oil that it has lost in this disaster. (Spilled Oil Royalty Collection Act, H.R. 5513, Rep. Chellie Pingree)

• Require more thorough analysis of the environmental impacts of proposed offshore drilling projects. (Oil Pollution Environmental Review Act, H.R. 5506, Reps. Gerry Connolly, Jared Polis)

• Require offshore drilling rigs to use best available safety technologies for safety equipment, including blowout preventers and emergency shut off systems. (Offshore Drilling Safety Improvement Act*, Rep. Jay Inslee)

• Ensure a fair return for American taxpayers through increased royalty transparency, ending deepwater royalty exemptions, and requiring oil & gas flow-monitoring technology. (Oil Pollution Taxpayer and Environmental Protection Act*, Rep. Jared Polis)

• Improve federal oil spill research coordination by establishing a guiding framework, streamlining oversight, increasing development of prevention & response technology. (Federal Oil Spill Research Program Act, H.R. 2693, Rep. Lynn Woolsey)

SEEC also announced its support for the End Big Oil Tax Subsidies Act* (Rep. Earl Blumenauer), which would repeal billions in unnecessary tax breaks for large, profitable oil and gas companies. In a letter sent last month to the House Ways & Means Committee SEEC urged these tax credits be repealed and federal support instead be directed toward domestic clean energy industries.

(*- indicates legislation pending introduction)

The Sustainable Energy & Environment Coalition (SEEC) is a caucus of fifty-four Democratic members of the House of Representatives that was founded in January, 2009. SEEC is co-chaired by Reps. Jay Inslee (D-WA.) and Steve Israel (D-NY) and supports "policies that promote clean energy technology innovation and domestic manufacturing, develop renewable energy resources, and create green collar jobs throughout the product supply-chain, (and) polices to help arrest global warming and protect our nation's clean air, water and natural environment."

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