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elleng Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-18-10 03:56 PM
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Received from Senator Cardin:
just returned from a brief visit to the Gulf of Mexico to witness first-hand the damage being done by the BP oil spill. As Chairman of the Senates Water and Wildlife Subcommittee, I led a Congressional Delegation trip to the area and I want to share with you what I am doing about this environmental and economic disaster.



Our first priority is to stop the oil flow. I was amazed that oil was everywhere. You truly cannot comprehend the scale of the disaster until you see it with your own eyes. Fishermen and other hardworking Americans we met are seeing their jobs and way of life threatened everyday this spill continues. Oil is killing marine wildlife too, destroying some of Americas most important commercial fisheries, and fouling fragile barrier islands, crucial wetlands, and previously pristine beaches along the Gulf Coast. BP and its partners will be held fully accountable for the environmental catastrophe they have caused, as well as the economic damage.



Can you imagine if there was an oil spill even a small fraction of this size off the coast of Ocean City or Assateague? Not only would damage to the Chesapeake Bay and its fragile ecosystem be unimaginable, but the economic impact on fisherman, crabbers, Ocean City and surrounding beach towns would be devastating for years.



Oil is going to be spilling into the Gulf of Mexico for the next few months, but the damage will grow and ripple through the environment and economy for generations. That is why I support a permanent moratorium on any oil or gas exploration or drilling off the Atlantic Coast and am urging the Obama Administration to permanently withhold drilling leases. I opposed expanding drilling for oil and gas off the mid-Atlantic even before the BP spill. The ongoing disaster in the Gulf makes me even more committed.



One positive note of the week is that BP has acceded to the demand I made, along with a majority of Senators, that they set up a $20 billion escrow fund to immediately begin to cover the economic losses to Gulf coast residents and businesses that are losing their jobs and their livelihood because of BPs negligence. Im also pleased that the Attorney General, following my and other members of the Environment and Public Works Committee urging, has opened a criminal investigation into the spill, because it is clear that BP and its partners did not fully comply with safety standards or have an adequate disaster response plan. We must also lift the liability caps of big oil companies, which now stands at a mere $75 million, so that we can hold them fully accountable for such disasters. Cleanup after the Exxon Valdez was estimated at $3.8 billion and it is possible that the BP Spill could cost at least six times that amount for cleanup and damages.



Tragedies like this can also bring opportunities. This man-made debacle provides a wake-up call for all those who thought no energy policy was a good energy policy. Weve got to make some real changes that will lessen our reliance on oil. I look forward to Senate consideration of a comprehensive energy plan that will generate millions of new jobs here in America, improve our national security, and stem the flow of dangerous pollution into our environment. We need to chart a clean energy future based on dramatic improvements in energy efficiency, major investment in renewable and nuclear power, and making polluters pay for continued damage to our air, water, and environment. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to participate in creating a new energy plan for our nation.

Sincerely,



Ben Cardin
U.S. Senate





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