Nelson Ready to Act on BP Oil Spill Commission Report

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson held an impromptu town hall Tuesday at the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce.
U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson held an impromptu town hall Tuesday at the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce.
TAMPA (2011-1-11) -

The presidential panel investigating the BP oil spill unanimously approved 15 recommendations. Many will require Congressional action and Florida U.S. Senator Bill Nelson is ready to move the recommendations forward.

“Just amazing,” Nelson said as he recounted several of the changes put forward by the commission.

Nelson came prepared to Tuesday’s town hall meeting at the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce. He pulled a printed copy of some of the panel’s findings out of his suit pocket and started reading.

“They underestimated the flow of oil,” Nelson said. “Well guess who was raising Cain about getting all of the spewing oil out to the public, your senator and Sen. (Barbara) Boxer got that out on my web site first and once the experts could see it, low and behold they made the recalculations.”

Nelson said the report rightfully questioned the unprecedented amount of dispersants used and it criticized the command framework response to the spill. He wanted the military to take charge and said the White House “pushed back.”

Nelson said he’s currently co-sponsoring legislation that would phase in higher liability caps on pollution fines.

“Finally, there were several management and oversight failures by BP, Halliburton and Transocean” Nelson said. “It’s exactly what we’ve been saying all along and now the official stamp of the commission is saying the same thing.”

Florida’s senior senator also said he directly asked new Gov. Rick Scott to rethink his campaign position supporting off shore drilling in state waters that extend 10 miles from shore. He also asked the Scott to reconsider his position on high speed rail. Scott is considering whether Florida should refuse federal funding for high speed rail.

“In that case, we’d be walking away from $2.4 billion which is on the table right now from the federal government,” Nelson said. “Ninety percent of the cost of the project from here to Orlando that can start to remake transportation in our state. I don’t want to think about the consequences if the State of Florida through the governor says no.”

Nelson added that he’s been saddened by some of the comments Scott has made since their meeting in Washington D.C. Those comments indicated that Scott is not convinced of the benefits of high speed rail to Florida.

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