Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Thursday said the US has to learn a profound lesson resulting from BP’s Gulf of Mexico disaster and has proposed an offshore drilling ban and stronger fuel economy standards for the automobile industry.
Senator Bernie Sanders, calling the BP oil spill an “unmitigated disaster,” has introduced a new piece of legislation called the “Clean Coasts and Efficient Cars Act of 2010” (pdf) which will “prohibit the leasing of the Pacific, Atlantic, Eastern Gulf of Mexico, and Central Gulf of Mexico Regions of the outer Continental Shelf and to increase fuel economy standards."
The new bill, if enacted, would also set a new fuel economy standard of 55 miles per gallon, up from the 35 mpg American auto manufactures must achieve by 2030.
According to Sanders, the European Union currently gets 42 mpg and is moving toward 65 mpg by 2020. He also notes that Canada, China, Japan and South Korea all have higher fuel economy standards than does the US.
Several national environmental groups, including Friends of the Earth and Oceana have come out in support of the new legislation.
Erich Pica, President of Friends of the Earth, appeared on Keith Olbermann's Countdown last week and said BP executives should be treated as criminals and in a letter to Sanders calls the new bill a renewal of “essential environmental protection.”
A statement on the Oceana website notes Sanders’ new bill “would promote energy efficiency while protecting some of our oceans, coastlines and coastal economies from further risk of offshore drilling.”
In a letter to Sanders, Kevin Knobloch, President of the Union of Concerned Scientists, commended the Senator’s leadership on the issue and called the new legislation “an important contribution to the overall debate on comprehensive clean energy and climate change legislation.”
“The current disaster in the Gulf of Mexico makes it clear that we must cut our reliance on oil and other dangerous sources of energy by spawning a new, clean energy economy in the United States,” Knobloch added in the letter.
Since Wednesday, BP’s latest attempt to stop the flow of crude has been a procedure known as the ‘top kill’, an effort to pump heavy drilling mud into the leak followed by a cement cap. As of late Thursday evening, the live feed of its environmental calamity continues showing an unidentified material spewing from a busted pipe on the Gulf’s seabed, indicating BP is suffering yet another setback in the 5-week catastrophe.
In The Guardian, Sanders says the US Gulf coast region “is being turned into a giant cesspool,” thanks to BP’s inability to stop the flow of crude oil into the Gulf’s waters and onto Gulf shorelines.
He adds that BP “must pay for the devastation it caused,” not the American taxpayers.