Congressional legislation introduced by Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., calls for research and development to bring oil spill response into the 21st century.
The Oil Spill Research and Technology Act of 2012 would create grants to support the research and development of new technologies to better contain and clean up all types of oil spills. In addition, the bill requires the U.S. Coast Guard to establish a program to evaluate and implement best available technology to effectively respond to and clean up spills.
Cantwell's bill would reorganize and streamline the Federal Oil Spill Research Committee, made up of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Coast Guard, Environmental Protection Agency and Interior Department.
This committee would spearhead a comprehensive oil spill research and development program and distribute competitive grants to universities and other institutions to research new methods and technologies to clean up oil spills.
The bill would require research into methods to clean up oil spills in icy conditions and into the unique properties of tar sands oil.
Cantwell said the Deepwater Horizon oil spill of 2010 demonstrated the chronic underinvestment in oil spill research and development. The industry currently lacks incentives and requirements to research, develop and adopt new cleanup technologies, even those that are proven effective, the senator said.