(Read Vitter's full remarks after the jump)
Republican Weekly Address
Delivered by Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana
May 22, 2010
“Hi I’m Senator David Vitter of Louisiana.
“What a month it’s been since the initial explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil platform just off Louisiana’s coast.
“While the Gulf oil spill most directly impacts Louisiana and our immediate neighbors, people all across the country certainly share in our feelings of anxiety as the ongoing gushing of the well continues.
“They’ve also shared by joining together to provide relief for those most affected by this tragedy. And, I know I speak for all Louisianians when I express how grateful we are for that outpouring of support.
“As we continue to work toward a recovery solution, none of us should lose sight that there are families who’ve lost loved ones. That is the greatest tragedy – something everyone in Washington should try a little harder to remember.
“I’ve also been all along Louisiana’s coast over the last few weeks meeting with those economically devastated – oystermen and fishermen, mayors and local officials and others hit hard by the impacts of the spill. They have clearly expressed that they don’t want a handout – they want a job and a paycheck. And through the Vessels of Opportunity program, many of these folks have been hired to man the coastline and marsh protection efforts underway.
“But clearly more needs to be done.
“From the annual blessing of the boats in Chalmette – a somber event this year – to the public meetings with the Vietnamese community in New Orleans that continues to struggle in working with BP on claims issues, I’ve listened, learned, and left with a much deeper perspective on how people’s lives all along the coast have been disrupted.
“That’s why it’s so frustrating to many Louisianans that while the crisis actually continues in the Gulf – while we’re still fighting to contain the well – Washington Democratic Committee Chairmen have rushed to create media events for television cameras instead of devoting full attention to stopping the immediate problem.
“I guess it’s typical of the culture in Washington for politicians to believe that they can solve an ongoing crisis with statements and testimonies in Congressional committee rooms. But the time for committee hearings is for after the well has been capped – not before.
“Folks closer to the scene understand that. We want 100 percent of the attention of all parties focused on our two most immediate problems: stopping the gushing oil, and protecting our coastlines and marshes from the oil.
“In addition to capping the well, coastal communities are in desperate need of more floating containment barriers, known as ‘boom.’ And I’ve talked numerous times to Admiral Thad Allen about this need.
“But this boom is really just a band aid to the larger wound of the spill. A greater, more substantial solution would be for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to work immediately with our state to build up and extend our barrier islands made from materials dredged from the immediate area – our rivers and deltas. With BP, by the way, appropriately paying the bill.
“To prevent this type of incident from ever happening again, I’ve also worked with other Gulf Coast Senators to introduce legislation that addresses two specific areas: the liability cap for the responsible party of a spill, and greater technological preparedness to address any future incidents much more rapidly and effectively.
“Our Oil Spill Response and Assistance Act would establish a new liability cap equal to the last four quarters of the responsible party’s profits or double the current limit, whichever is greater.
“The bill would establish much greater reserve requirements for the amount of boom –capable of withstanding up to six-foot waves – and would direct work on technology to effectively cap leaks like the one currently gushing in the Gulf.
“That would make offshore drilling safer, smarter and more reliable, but not extinct.
“Some in Washington have tried to seize on this real human tragedy in the Gulf to advocate for a radical new energy agenda.
“That only cheapens the loss of those who’ve lost loved ones and brushes aside the ongoing, unsolved problem to spring forward with an emotionally-charged political agenda.
“That’s wrong and, frankly, an example of bankrupt leadership.
“Both Republicans and Democrats say they want to decrease our foreign dependence on oil, but ending all domestic energy production offshore would only make us that much more dependent.
“And this false choice on how to proceed in the future of energy exploration in the wake of a terrible accident contributes little to the debate.
“We all acknowledge that alternative fuels are the future, but the sad reality is that they are still very much in the future from a practical-use standpoint.
“That’s why domestic energy production is critical to free ourselves from foreign energy sources and should provide a bridge toward that more renewable, cleaner future.
“I believe Americans understand that, even in the midst of this tragedy. And I know Louisianans do. Thank you.”