December 6, 2005
Senator seeks tougher antipollution measures in Puget Sound
U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) is to introduce legislation to implement environmental safeguards to protect Puget Sound from future oil spills.
Cantwell is the top Democrat on the Senate Commerce Subcommittee that has jurisdiction over oil spill issues.
She says her bill, "The Oil Pollution Prevention and Response Act," would reduce the risk of an oil spill in Puget Sound and the Strait of Juan de Fuca by improving tug escort procedures, requiring a permanent rescue tug in Neah Bay, and providing financial support for Washington's newly formed Oil Spill Advisory Council.
The legislation would also increases liability caps for parties responsible for an oil spill, require more comprehensive structural inspections of single-hull oil tankers, and initiate an analysis of oil transportation in the United States to determine if additional safeguards are needed.
Cantwell has been working on comprehensive legislation to reduce and prevent spills since she became Ranking Member of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Fisheries and the Coast Guard in early 2005.
The legislation she plans to introduce later this month when the Senate comes back into session grew out of a major field hearing held in Seattle last August, and responds to testimony from government officials, industry representatives, and other experts and stakeholders.
Earlier this year, Cantwell worked with U.S. Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK) to renew and reinvigorate the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund in the Energy Bill. Without Congressional action, the Fund, which has been used to help clean up oil spills in the Puget Sound, would have run out of money by 2008.
Key Components of Cantwell's "Oil Pollution Prevention and Response Act:"