Tuesday, August 3, 2010


Have you seen enough of the Gulf Oil catastrophe? Does it irk you that the safety control on British Petroleum's Deepwater Horizon rig had been intentionally disabled? Shouldn't oil rig workers be encouraged to blow the whistle on patently unsafe actions on oil rigs? Well, I thought so too. You know who didn't think that was a good idea? That's right, Lynn Jenkins the darling of Big Business.

H.R. 5851, the Offshore Oil and Gas Worker Whistleblower Protection Act of 2010, passed the House of Representatives on roll call 506 by a margin of 315 to 93.

This is what H.R. 5851 does:

Prohibits an employer from discharging, discriminating, or engaging in retaliatory actions against specified employees who report to a government official any violation or unsafe condition under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act.

Sets forth complaint filing procedures with the Secretary of Labor regarding such retaliation.

Requires employers to: (1) post a notice approved by the Secretary of Labor explaining employee rights and remedies under this Act in a conspicuous location in the place of employment where employees frequent; (2) provide training to employees about their rights under this Act within 30 days of employment, and at least once every 12 months thereafter; and (3) provide employees with a card containing a toll free telephone number at the Department of Labor to get information or file a complaint under this Act.

Directs the Secretary of Labor, within 30 days after enactment of this Act, to designate agency officials to receive, investigate, and adjudicate complaints concerning violations under this Act.

Obviously the greedy pursuit of profit trumped safe operations on the Deepwater Horizon. If oil rig workers already had whistle blower protection then the ecology, economy, and future of the Gulf States would not be in jeopardy today.

Most Americans recognize that another problem with safety on the Deepwater Horizon had to do with the cozy relationship between the Oil Industry and the Federal Agency responsible for the safety of offshore rigs, the Materials Management Service.

Interior Department Secretary Salazar is taking steps to keep the foxes out of the henhouse. H.R. 3534, the Consolidated Land, Energy, and Aquatic Resources Act of 2009 addresses the problem. This bill passed the House on roll call 513 by a margin of 209 to 193/ Thirty Members of Congress did not vote. How much money is Big Oil spreading these days?

Key provisions of H.R. 3534 include:

Establishes in the Department of the Interior the Office of Federal Energy and Minerals Leasing.

Transfers to such Office certain functions of: (1) the Minerals Management Service; and (2) the Oil and Gas Management program of the Bureau of Land Management.

Amends the Federal Oil and Gas Royalty Management Act of 1982 to revise miscellaneous specified administrative requirements.

Directs the Secretary of the Interior to take specified actions regarding oil and gas royalties, including: (1) a pilot project assessing costs and benefits of automatic transmission of certain data produced under federal leases on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS); (2) determination and reporting of BTU values of natural gas from federal leases; and (3) final regulations concerning required recordkeeping of natural gas measurement data.

Modifies oil and gas leasing requirements under the Mineral Leasing Act, adding requirements for coal mine methane recovery.

Amends the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act to: (1) extend the Land and Water Conservation Fund through FY2040; (2) make $900 million available from the Fund each fiscal year without further appropriation; and (3) revise requirements for allocation of funds for federal purposes and financial assistance to states.

Sets forth a public land leasing program for commercial wind or solar energy development.

Amends the Mineral Leasing Act to set forth a uranium leasing program on specified public lands.

Designates specified OCS Regions for federal renewable and nonrenewable energy resources development. Directs the Secretaries of the Interior and of Commerce to establish Regional Outer Continental Shelf Councils to: (1) coordinate siting and development of energy resources; and (2) prepare OCS Strategic Plans.

Establishes in the Treasury the Ocean Resources Conservation and Assistance Fund (ORCA), from which grants shall be made to: (1) coastal states and affected Indian tribes; (2) the Ocean, Coastal and Great Lakes Grants Program (to be established under this Act); and (3) Regional Ocean Partnerships.

Amends the Energy Policy Act of 2005 to repeal: (1) royalty incentives for natural gas production from deep wells in shallow waters of the Gulf of Mexico; and (2) royalty relief for deep water production in the Gulf of Mexico.

Directs the Secretary of the Interior to establish an annual production incentive fee for specified leases of federal onshore and offshore lands for production of oil or natural gas under which production is not occurring in commercial quantities.

Prohibits the following authorities from developing or approving a fishery management plan to permit or regulate offshore aquaculture: (1) the Secretary of Commerce; (2) the Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; or (3) the Regional Fishery Management Councils. Declares invalid any permit issued for the conduct of offshore aquaculture.

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