Markey Intro's Bill to Fund Better Oil Spill Response R&D

| Thu Jun. 3, 2010 2:22 PM EDT

BP CEO Tony Hayward admitted Thursday that it is "an entirely fair criticism" that the company was not prepared for a deepwater oil blowout of this magnitude. "We did not have the tools you would want in your tool-kit," he told the Financial Times. It was already clear that the company didn't take safety planning very seriously; now one lawmaker has put forward a bill to force better preparation for this kind of disaster.

Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) said Thursday he intends to introduce a bill following the Memorial Day recess that would force companies drilling in the Gulf of Mexico to begin paying royalties on some lands that are currently free, and redirect that money to the research and development of safety and spill-response technology.

"From junk shots to top hats, this spill shows that BP and the oil industry paid more attention to drilling ultra-deep instead of creating ultra-safe technologies to prevent and respond to a crisis," said Markey. He's calling it the "Oil Safety for Offshore Spills Fund" (or the Oil SOS for short).

Under a 1995 law, the Deepwater Royalty Relief Act, some oil producers in the Gulf received leases between 1996 and 2000 free of charge. The bill would seek to recoup those funds, and Markey says that could add up to $53 billion dollars in future royalties from companies drilling in the Gulf. His bill would also repeal some of the royalty relief granted in the 2005 energy bill.