House May Correct Bad Policies of the Past with Oil Spill Legislation

The Gulf oil spill brought to light the impact that disasters like this have on the lands and waters that belong to all Americans. We rely on the government to make sure the oil and gas companies are acting responsibly because when things go wrong our communities and ecosystems both suffer. Without stronger oversight and changes to the status quo, how can we trust that disasters like this won’t happen in the future?

Before the House adjourns for their August recess at the end of the week, they will at long last debate legislation to make some of the long overdue reforms to oil and gas regulation that resulted in the crisis in the Gulf. H.R. The Consolidated Land, Energy, and Aquatic Resources Act of 2010 (H.R. 3534), the CLEAR Act, will not only make some of those needed reforms, but will take some additional steps to make sure our lands and waters are protected.

After years of being shorted, the CLEAR Act will fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund. This trust fund uses revenues from offshore oil and gas development to create and protect public lands. The program is authorized to receive $900 million in royalties every year, but almost every year a large portion of this funding is diverted for other uses. The CLEAR Act will ensure that the LWCF receives its annual $900 million to better protect our greatest rivers and lands.

The oil and gas industry received special exemptions from complying with environmental laws that we rely on to keep our families safe. The CLEAR Act will close one of those loopholes and require that activities like the construction of roads, drill pads, staging areas, pipeline and utility corridors are required to comply with the Clean Water Act storm water runoff program. Requiring oil and gas companies, like every other industry, to take commonsense measures to prevent the pollution of our streams and waterways is not too much to ask.

Next week we expect the Senate to take up their own bill to respond to the oil spill, and we hope to see even more progress to protect rivers. For now, you can help us encourage the House to pass the CLEAR Act by telling your Representative to vote YES on H.R. 3534.