Washington (CNSNews.com) - Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), who is opposed to any expanded off-shore oil drilling operations, told CNSNews.com that he would support the development of new oil resources at locations “where the existing producing rigs are.”
At a press conference on Tuesday, CNSNews.com asked Sen. Nelson, “Is there anywhere within the United States where you would support new oil drilling, sir?”
Nelson said, “There’s already existing rigs that are producing.”
CNSNews.com then asked the senator, “Where exactly would you support new oil drilling?” and Nelson said, “Where the existing producing rigs are.”
According to the Minerals Management Service (MMS), which is part of the Department of Interior, “About 17.84 billion barrels of oil and 76.47 trillion cubic feet of natural gas (are) to be technically recoverable in the areas currently off limits” to oil exploration and drilling.
As of 2007, there were approximately 1,600 oil rigs operating in the United States – 1,500 on land and 100 off-shore.
At Tuesday’s press conference, Sen. Nelson proposed legislation to increase to $10 billion (up from $75 million) the liability that BP (British Petroleum) might have to pay for damages because of the current oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The spill, still not contained as of Tuesday, happened after an explosion on a BP rig caused the platform to collapse and the main oil pipe under the rig to buckle and start leaking in three places.
Nelson’s legislation is co-sponsored by Sens. Robert Menendez and Frank Lautenberg, both New Jersey Democrats. The bill’s proponents oppose any new off-shore drilling.
“We’re glad that the costs for the oil clean up will be covered, but that’s little consolation to the small businesses, fisheries, and local governments that will be left to clean up the economic mess that somebody else caused,” said Menendez in a statement. “We can’t let the burden fall on the taxpayers – we should ensure that those who cause the damage are fully responsible.”
President Barack Obama at different times has said that taxpayers will not be held accountable for the Gulf Coast oil spill, which is estimated to be at least 130 miles by 70 miles in size and still growing.
During the press conference, Menendez said the oil spill reflects the need for “comprehensive climate and energy legislation.”
“I would like to think that instead of hurting climate change, the spill has actually thrust into light why we in fact are demanding an energy independence of fossil fuels, and demand that we stop polluting our planet,” said Menendez.
“If anything, this spill should act as a rallying cry for comprehensive climate and energy legislation,” he said.
Furthermore, said Menendez, “Instead of expanding drilling and doubling down on 19th century fuels, we could be investing in a new 21st century green economy that could create thousand of new jobs with American ingenuity -- leading American jobs that fuel American energy and create American security.”
According to the Department of Interior’s MMS, “Only about 2 percent of the oil spilled in our North American oceans comes from OCS (outer continental shelf) production. In contrast, over 150 times more oil in our North American oceans comes from natural seeps in the ocean floor.”