Marilyn Heiman, director of the Pew Environment Group's offshore energy reform efforts, issued the following statement after the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Consolidated Land, Energy, and Aquatic Resources (CLEAR) Act.
"The CLEAR Act will fundamentally transform our nation's approach to oil and gas extraction off our coasts-an action that is long overdue.
"In the 32 years since Congress last amended offshore drilling laws, there have been significant advancements in technology that have allowed extraction in ever-deeper and remote waters. Sadly, improvements in oil spill prevention and response capabilities have not kept pace. Key provisions in the House bill include improving safety and oversight, requiring use of the best available technology for drilling and spill response, creating a Gulf restoration program and eliminating the liability cap so American taxpayers are not left to pay the bill.
"Lifting the moratorium on deepwater drilling before this broad reform legislation can be implemented, however, will put our oceans and coastal communities at risk. Companies should only be allowed to resume drilling once they prove they are adhering to the new safety requirements. There is too much at stake to move forward without these protections in place.
"Nonetheless, the House bill would make significant reforms in the law so that future development off America's coasts is science-based and ensures use of the best available technology and environmental review. After over 30 hearings, many amendments and countless hours of thoughtful discussion, the Senate must act now. It's time to plug the leaks in the law."
The Pew Environment Group's offshore energy reform work is now a part of Pew's Arctic Ocean Program.