Gulf Coast Recovery
The issue of the Gulf Coast Recovery is important to our district and to my work in Congress.
Many challenges face our federal government today, including restoring fiscal responsibility, supporting private sector job creation and empowering hard-working families striving to fulfill the American dream. However, for Florida and the entire Gulf coast, one of the most important challenges is the long-term recovery of the Gulf of Mexico following the devastating oil spill.
On April 20th, a BP oil rig located 52 miles off of the Louisiana coast exploded with 126 workers on the rig, resulting in 11 families losing their loved ones. With no plan in place for failure of the blowout preventer and no clear leader in the federal response, efforts to stop the flow of oil from the damaged well took far too long. The BP oil spill is now the largest spill in United States history and the environmental and economic impacts of this disaster will be felt for years to come.
During his 50 years as a public servant, Congressman Young has had experience responding to environmental crises. In 1970, while serving in the Florida State Senate, the tanker Delian Apollon spilled more than 20,000 gallons of crude oil into Tampa Bay. After observing that there was no emergency response plan in place for oil spills in Florida waters, Congressman Young introduced legislation to ensure the state would be prepared to respond to any future spill. His legislation, quickly passed by the legislature, was called our nation’s toughest oil spill response law at the time and was challenged by the oil and shipping industry until it reached the Supreme Court, which unanimously upheld the law.
Knowing the damage an oil spill can cause our state, Congressman Young has taken a backseat to no one when it comes to ensuring that our coastal waters and beaches remain pristine. Congressman Young has always believed that protecting our beautiful beaches is fundamental to ensuring a healthy, stable economy here in the "Sunshine State." Since 1983, he has offered numerous amendments to appropriations bills to create a buffer zone protecting Florida’s west coast from offshore oil drilling. Congressman Young was forced to negotiate with his colleagues every year to include this provision, and in 2006, the Florida delegation was finally able to secure a more permanent protection against drilling by writing into law a buffer zone extending 234 miles off the coast of the Pinellas County beaches he represents. This area is not only critical to the protection of our state’s beautiful beaches and unique environment but to the training of our nation’s soldiers, sailors, Marines and pilots who exercise there on a regular basis.
During the last Congress, in response to the Deepwater Horizon disaster, Congressman Young introduced the SAFEGUARDS Act. His legislation presented several common sense solutions to address some of the systematic breakdowns that led to the BP catastrophe, specifically requiring the Coast Guard to approve spill response plans for every oil rig, updating worst case scenario spill response plans, requiring the EPA to monitor water quality after oil spills, placing the Commandant of the Coast Guard in charge of the government’s response to large oil spills, prohibiting categorical exclusions and updating our national oil spill response plan regularly, a plan which was last updated more than a decade ago.
Since its introduction, many of these solutions have been adopted by federal agencies, including the Department of the Interior announcing that it will restrict the use of categorical exclusions when considering oil and natural gas development plans. Admiral Allen has also recently highlighted the inadequacies in the national response plan to the Oil Spill Commission, indicating that the plan had to go though five revisions since the beginning of the spill. His testimony shows the importance of regularly updating the response plan.
Addressing the causes of the spill and the inadequacies of the response is just one step in the overall government response to the BP disaster. Continued monitoring of the Gulf will ensure we are prepared to quickly respond to the unintended consequences of this spill. Recovery may take years and the long-term effects of the oil spill, as well as those of the response and clean-up efforts, are still unclear. This is why it is vitally important that we continue to fund the research being done at institutions of higher learning around the country, including at the University of South Florida whose College of Marine Science has become an international center for the study of our nation’s and our world’s waters and of our coastal lands.
Together with Florida Institute of Oceanography (FIO), which is drawing together all the state of Florida’s marine research expertise, and a variety of other local, state and federal organizations, our community has provided key information to our nation’s decision makers about the impact oil is having on our environment and the development of long-term strategies to clean it up. Knowing this, Congressman Young led the Florida delegation in sending a letter to BP expressing our support for a proposal by the FIO for $100 million from BP to maintain independent monitoring of the Gulf. Congressman Young will continue to support Gulf recovery, ensuring we are prepared to quickly respond to the unintended consequences of the spill and restore the Gulf’s fragile environment.
Some of the measures Congressman Young supported in the 112th Congress included:
- H.R. 1520, the Offshore Drilling Safety Improvement Act;
- H.R. 1664, the SAFEGUARDS Act.
Current Information on Gulf Recovery
- Deepwater Horizon Claims Center
- Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force
- Gulf Coast Claims Facility - The GCCF Transition Process is now closed. The Court Supervised Settlement Program began on June 4, 2012. Please visit the Deepwater Horizon Claims Center
- National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling