Washington, D.C. (June 22, 2010) – Congressman Anh “Joseph” Cao (LA-02) talked this week by phone with President Obama’s new point man for developing a long-term Gulf Coast restoration plan following the BP oil spill. The livelihoods of thousands of Vietnamese and other Southeast Asian fisheries that work out of the golf are in question. U.S. Navy Secretary and former Mississippi Governor Ray Mabus called Cao this afternoon to solicit the Congressman’s support and cooperation.
Cao pledged his cooperation and stressed the importance of taking positive steps, including a partial lifting of the Administration’s six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling to allow companies to drill without actually tapping reservoirs, thus keeping Louisiana’s oil and gas industry safely afloat while safety protocols are under review.
Cao urged Mabus to support his call for accelerated oil revenue sharing on deepwater leases issued after December 20, 2006. Gulf Coast states are not scheduled to begin collecting 37.5 percent of royalties on those leases until fiscal 2017.
Cao wants the date moved up to fiscal 2011, so Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida and Texas can start collecting their share of royalties later on this year, creating an immediate source of funding to pay for coastal restoration.
Cao also asked Mabus to support his call for raising the $75 million liability cap on economic damages oil companies can be forced to pay spill victims, such as fishermen.
Mabus told Cao he is planning a trip to New Orleans in the very near future, and the two agreed to work closely together on planning the restoration.
On June 21, 2010 Congressman Cao joined fellow members of the U.S. House Homeland Security Committee to fly over the massive slick and site of the leak in a Coast Guard fixed wing airplane.
Also along for the flyover were the Committee Chairman, Congressman Bennie Thompson (MS-02); Congresswoman Sheila Jackson-Lee (TX-18); Congressman Christopher Carney (PA-10); Congresswoman Laura Richardson (CA-37); Congressman Al Green (TX-09); Congressman Michael Rogers (MI-08); and Congressman Steve Austria (OH-07).
The Federal On-Scene Coordinator for the BP oil spill response, Rear Admiral James Watson, told Cao and his fellow Committee members that BP is now disposing of leaked oil at the rate of 25,000 barrels per day. He said 15,000 barrels of that is being collected from the top cap over the blowout preventer at the well head and piped to a containment vessel at the surface.
Another 10,000 gallons is being burned off on a seperate vessel, which is siphoning the oil from the blowout preventer through a tube system installed last week.
Committee members asked Watson how much oil is leaking into the Gulf. Watson said he couldn’t say for sure, but that he hopes to have a new device in place in July that will precisely measure the rate of leakage. Previous estimates have placed the rate at 60,000 barrels a day.