Home Energy and Environment Gerry Connolly: Bush Administration, GOP Policies Led to Oil Disaster

Gerry Connolly: Bush Administration, GOP Policies Led to Oil Disaster

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Yesterday, four Congressmen – Rush Holt of New Jersey, Jared Polis of Colorado, Earl Blumenauer of Oregon, and Gerry Connolly of Virginia – spoke for  60 minutes in the House of Representatives on the “oil spill disaster” in the Gulf of Mexico.  Here are a few key points by Rep. Connolly. I strongly recommend that everyone read this, because it absolutely nails both the diagnosis of what caused this disaster and the potential risks to more, mindless “drill, baby, drill” here in Virginia and nationally.  Good work on this one by Rep. Connolly!

*The “thick oil spill” – let alone the overall surface oil spill – is so large, it would spread from “Dale City near Manassas in Prince William County and [go] as far as Wilmington, Delaware.”

*”This oil spill could have been prevented.”

*”The 2009 Government Accountability Office report said that during the previous administration categorical exclusions were issued far too frequently and it could lead to serious problems. Well, indeed, it did.”

*The Dulles rail project “had to go through a 2-year environmental review that cost millions of dollars of taxpayer-funded money for a public project. But ironically, a private oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico was excluded from that process. It didn’t have to do it.”

*”…we consciously decide[d] during the Bush administration and by previous Congresses, frankly controlled by our friends on the other side, consciously to exclude such oil drilling from the regular environmental review that could have detected problems…”

More after the “flip”

*”If this well, this Deepwater Horizon well, had predrilled such relief wells, it would have allowed the closing of the leak weeks ago, but they weren’t required to do so.”

*”…this didn’t happen by an act of God. This happened because of lax or no regulation, regulation we knew was necessary and we took a chance. We took a chance. And we took a chance, why? Because of the almighty dollar. We took a chance because of Big Oil money, making sure that it influenced the process and made sure that it was exempted from normal regulatory review.”

*We’ve lost billions of dollars in fishing, tourism, all put “at risk for a mindless, ‘drill, Baby, drill’ approach…”

*”This happened by virtue of a conscious decision, by Congress’ control, by our friends on the other side, and by the Bush administration to find all kinds of waivers and exemptions from normal regulatory review and from simple commonsense protections in the event something did go wrong, all at the altar of oil exploration and fossil fuel energy dependence, quite frankly. It could have been prevented and it could have been mitigated.”

*Offshore oil drilling in Virginia risks $1.4 billion annually in Virginia Beach tourism alone, plus “the longest stretch of undeveloped barrier islands on the east coast, irreplaceable habitat for birds in the east coast flyaway.”

*Offshore oil drilling in Virginia also “threatens the presence of the United States Navy in Virginia, terribly important in terms of military investment in the Commonwealth of Virginia.”

*The potential for offshore wind power in Virginia “is enormous, dwarfing the potential for offshore oil.”

*In stark contrast, “For all of the sturm und drang in my State about whether we should drill, baby, drill off the shores of Virginia, the entire estimate of reserves, maximum, off the shore of Virginia, with the largest coastline, barrier island coastline on the east coast, is the equivalent of no more than 6 days of oil supply.”

*”‘Drill, baby, drill’ has now become ‘spill, baby, spill.'”  

*”The consequences of that philosophy of unrestricted oil drilling, irrespective of the environmental concerns, irrespective of the need for reasonable and prudent regulatory oversight to protect the public from precisely this kind of unmitigated disaster, have now actually happened because a whole bunch of people in a position to know better put oil ahead of everything else, including the public interests.”

  • Dan Sullivan

    Of course it began a long, long time ago…

  • Ron

    While Congressman Connolly, et al., are certainly correct that the ‘deregulate every industry’, ‘crony government’, and short-sighted energy policies of the Bush era (and, unfortunately, Blue Dog Democrats) and of the last 20 years of conservative government are certainly very much to blame, the fact is that the lease for this well was approved by the MMS and Interior Department of Secretary Salazar and President Obama. There’s no getting around that fact.

    You can argue that three or four months in office are not long enough to weed out all the corrupt and bad executives and bureaucrats installed during eight years of Bush-Cheney executive branch ‘leadership’, but, in the end, Obama’s executive branch approved this lease and all the lack of regulation involved in overseeing its construction.

    If Harry Truman were in charge, he’d say the blame was his. Obama has said that now, but does he mean it?