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NY Congressman: BP Oil Spill Response “Absolutely Ridiculous”

May 24, 2010

NEW YORK - As congressional hearings begin this week into the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, a New York Congressman on the the committee involved criticizes BP, calls for a halt to planned drilling by Shell in the Arctic and warns of consequences for the Empire State from the Gulf spill.

Representative Maurice Hinchey, whose district includes eight counties in the Hudson Valley and the Finger Lakes region, calls the lack of certainty about the amount of oil gushing into the Gulf from the BP blowout "absolutely ridiculous." And he warns the spill will have not only an economic impact on New York taxpayers, but an environmental one as well, if the oil goes around Florida and gets into the Gulf Stream.

"There are a whole host of states along the eastern part of our country that could be adversely affected by this, and New York could be one of those."

Hinchey sits on the House Natural Resources Committee, which will be holding the hearings this week on the spill.

BP has said it is trying to get data disseminated as quickly as possible about the consequences of its blowout.

Hinchey says New York taxpayers will be affected by the Gulf oil spill because of a $75 million federal cap on oil drillers' liability, a cap he wants to raise.

"That $75 million is just petty; it's not going to begin to cover the costs. The costs, then, are going to be covered by, you know, the average taxpayer of this country."

He's called for Shell Oil to delay drilling in the Arctic Ocean this summer. Shell says it is adding extra safety measures.

A coalition of environmental groups is also calling for the postponement of Shell's project in the Arctic, where, they say, the nearest cleanup vessels and equipment would be a hundred miles away in the event of a spill.

Jessica Ennis of Earthjustice says nature lovers in New York would be affected by an accident.

"A lot of the birds, actually, that we have here in the lower 48 migrate up to the Arctic Circle, migratory birds from your backyard. And we've seen the images of oiled birds in the Gulf, and the same thing could happen in the Arctic."

The hearings by the House Natural Resources Committee are set to begin Wednesday morning. They will be webcast live and archived on the Committee's website at resourcescommittee.house.gov

Mark Scheerer, Public News Service - NY