Press Release | May 18, 2011

Virginia, North Carolina Senators Vote on Oil Bills in U.S. Senate

Senators from Virginia and North Carolina voted today on a bill (S. 953) that would expose the coasts, fishing, and tourism of both states to the risk of an oil spill from drilling under the same practices that led to the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster a year ago, according to the Southern Environmental Law Center.

Senator Webb (D-VA), Senator Warner (D-VA) and Senator Hagan (D-NC) voted against risky oil drilling along with the majority, while Senator Burr (R-NC) voted for the bill.

“Today’s vote by Senator Warner, Senator Webb, and Senator Hagan protects our coasts from the expansion of unsafe drilling with inadequate oversight in sensitive coastal areas,” said Nat Mund, legislative director for the Southern Environmental Law Center.

“In contrast,” added Derb Carter, director of SELC’s Carolinas Office, “Senator Burr voted to expose North Carolina’s coast to the adverse impacts of risky offshore drilling.”

On a related issue yesterday, Senators Webb, Warner, and Hagan – mindful that Virginians and North Carolinians are paying high prices at the pump to oil companies – voted for S. 940, which would discontinue $2 billion in annual subsidies to oil companies, including the five largest oil companies which reported profits of $32 billion in the first quarter of 2011. Senator Burr voted against the measure, opting to protect subsidies to Big Oil.

The U.S. Congress has failed to act on the bipartisan recommendations of the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling that systemic reform of the oil industry and stronger public oversight is needed to protect life and coasts from high-risk oil operations.

Recently, the Energy Information Administration projected that if the United States tripled production on the outer continental shelf, there would be no gas price impact until 2020 and only 3 cents to 5 cents a gallon in 2030.

Press Contacts

Kathleen Sullivan

Senior Communications Manager (NC)

Phone: 919-967-1450
Email: ksullivan@selcnc.org