Romanoff sees Gulf spill as wake up call: ‘Biggest polluters bankroll Congress’

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Andrew Romanoff yesterday issued a statement blaming the Gulf Coast oil spill at least in part on the political clout of British Petroleum.

“We need to minimize the risk of another such catastrophe, one that at least indirectly can be traced to the lobbying efforts of BP, campaign contributions from its PAC (including to my opponent) and the resulting exemptions from environmental impact studies,” he said in a press release.

By the time all the damages have been assessed, this oil spill will be “the worst environmental and economic disaster in U.S. history,” he said.

He advocated three steps that need to be taken to reduce the likelihood and consequences of future spills:

First, the country needs to better enforce safety standards.

Congress needs to raise the cap on liability. Although BP will be responsible for the costs of clean-up, he said, its civil liability is capped at $75 million, an amount Romanoff likened to “a single day’s profit” for the company. He said the fishing and tourism industries alone may lose tens of billions of dollars because of the spill.

Last, he said there must be faster more effective response to future spills. The technology exists and is readily available to minimize damages from these kinds of spills. Those technologies were not utilized in a timely fashion.

“We cannot allow the biggest polluters to bankroll Congress,” Romanoff said in a recent interview with the Independent. He said no further permits for offshore drilling should be issued until we know exactly what went wrong this time and have safeguards in place to reduce the chances of future accidents.

He acknowledged that the United States will not eliminate its use of fossil fuels anytime soon but that it’s as clear as ever that we need to work toward energy independence.

He advocated for renewable energy sources and said the federal government must follow in Colorado’s footsteps by requiring a certain percentage of all energy used in the country to come from renewables.

“If we do nothing, the effects of climate change will be devastating to our quality of life. In fact, the fate of the planet hangs in the balance. It is really that serious,” he said.

Romanoff argues the cap and trade system isn’t working very well and is “too easy to game.” He favors a tax on energy consumption, which he says would be revenue neutral because of offsetting reductions in income taxes. “Instead of taxing you on what you earn, we should tax you on what you burn.”

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Scot Kersgaard has been managing editor of a political newspaper, editor and co-owner of a ski town newspaper, executive editor of eight high-tech magazines (where he worked with current Apple CEO Tim Cook), deputy press secretary to a U.S. Senator, and an outdoors columnist at the Rocky Mountain News. He has an English degree from the University of Washington. He was awarded a fellowship to study internet journalism at the University of Maryland's Knight Center for Specialized Journalism. He was student body president in college. He spends his free time hiking and skiing.

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