The Pew Environment Group has announced several advocacy efforts in the wake of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, including calling on Congress to reform the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA) and the Oil Petroleum Act.
Specifically, Pew is working to improve agency oversight of environmental protection, safety, and management of oil development on the outer continental shelf; amend OCSLA to ensure that the environmental effects of oil and gas development, including cumulative impacts, are thoroughly reviewed and appropriately addressed; eliminate the statutory limits on liability for damages resulting from oil spills to ensure that the full cost of economic and environmental damage is recovered; amend the Oil Pollution Act to increase the timeliness and effectiveness of oil spill response and recovery; and suspend new oil leasing, exploration, and production until new safety and environmental standards are adopted through legislation or regulation.
In addition, Pew is advocating passage of a law introduced earlier this year that would provide funding and create jobs for fishermen and coastal communities as fish populations rebuild. The Coastal Jobs Creation Act would devote $80 million annually through 2015 to create opportunities for fishermen to perform cooperative research with scientists, remove marine debris, revitalize waterfronts, and participate in projects to restore fish populations and ecosystems. The organization has also written to both bodies of Congress in support of an additional $50 million to assess damage from the Gulf spill and to gauge the prospects for recovery of the Gulf ecosystem and its fisheries.
"Beyond the immediate human tragedy, this disaster has imperiled the ecosystem along the U.S. Gulf Coast and impacted residents who depend on a healthy Gulf," said Pew Environment Group managing director Joshua S. Reichert. "This spill did not need to happen. In its wake, the spotlight has focused on multiple failures of our legislative and regulatory system. The Pew Environment Group is concentrating its efforts on changing these laws and regulations to help ensure that this tragic spill is not repeated."