Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) said in a letter to President Obama today that he will file legislation to at least temporarily block the Interior Department from moving forward on the administration’s plans to expand offshore drilling. Nelson also asked for an “immediate halt to test wells and all other exploratory operations in coastal waters.”
“Each day the Deepwater Horizon test well gushes oil into the Gulf of Mexico, the oil industry’s claims about modern, safe and environmentally friendly technology becomes more and more unbelievable,” Nelson writes. “As I have argued for decades, drilling too close to the coast poses too great a threat to the economy and environment of Florida and other coastal states.”
Nelson also called for an investigation after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill off the Gulf Coast. The joint Senate committee investigation will look into safety claims made by the oil industry. Nelson last week wrote to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, asking for an investigation into all U.S. drilling accidents over at least the past decade. He also wants a congressional investigation by the Senate Commerce Committee, on which he serves.
Meanwhile, the oil could reach land as early as Friday. The spill is five times worse than first thought.
In addition, the federal agency with oversight of offshore drilling, the Interior Department’s Minerals and Management Service did not require BP to file a “scenario for potential blowout,” referring to the sudden release of oil from a well.
According to the exploration plan obtained by Huffington Post, an MMS official certified that BP “has the capacity to respond, to the maximum extent practicable, to a worst-case discharge, or a substantial threat of such a discharge.”