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WASHINGTON – Today, Congressman Ted W. Lieu (D-Los Angeles County) introduced legislation to increase civil and criminal penalties for oil spills. The Increasing Penalties for Offshore Polluters Act, which was introduced with Reps. Julia Brownley (CA-26), Alan Lowenthal (CA-47), Mike Levin (CA-43) and Katie Porter (CA-45), would remove caps for civil penalties on offshore drilling violations and would double all fines and potential prison time for criminal penalties. 

This legislation follows October’s Huntington Beach oil spill, which was estimated to have spread more than 126,000 gallons of crude oil into the Pacific coastline. In October, Reps. Lieu and Brownley, Co-Chairs of the California Coastal Caucus, called for a ban on off-shore drilling.

“Our coastlines face a perpetual threat so long as oil drilling is permitted,” said Congressman Lieu. “We need to hold polluters accountable – and disincentivize the practice in general. The onus should be on oil companies to take all necessary precautions to prevent spills, and they should be held fully civilly or criminally liable should a spill happen. Our bill creates an incentive for oil companies to update their infrastructure and be proactive in preventing spills.”

“For decades, the oil and gas industry has continued to pollute and dirty our oceans and shorelines with little to no consequences or incentives to stop,” said Congresswoman Julia Brownley. “It is time we stop these corporations from repeated pollution violations. The Increasing Penalties for Offshore Polluters Act doubles the civil and criminal penalties of offshore polluters and ensures that these companies are held responsible for negligent violations and endangerment. This bill takes the necessary action to prevent any future disasters that endanger our coastal communities and marine ecosystems.”

“Just over a month ago, as thousands of gallons of oil washed ashore from a ruptured offshore oil pipeline, Southern California learned firsthand how inadequate regulations, lax oversight, and woefully minimal fines for polluting our coast can have disastrous impacts on our public health, our economy, and our environment,” said Congressman Alan Lowenthal. “We must ensure that polluters face serious consequences for their actions by increasing the penalties they face when they pollute our coasts. The Increasing Penalties for Offshore Polluters Act is an important first step and I am proud to support it.”

“The latest oil spill off the coast of Orange County showed that we must do more to hold offshore drilling operators accountable and prevent future negligence,” said Congressman Mike Levin. “I’m proud to introduce the Penalties for Offshore Polluters Act with my colleagues to crack down on bad actors who pollute our oceans and beaches. Offshore drilling operators everywhere must know that they will face severe consequences for polluting our waters and undermining coastal businesses that rely on clean oceans and beaches.”

 “Polluters have a long history of buying influence in Washington to get policies that benefit them at the expense of our planet and the rest of us,” said Congresswoman Katie Porter. “Enough is enough with Big Oil’s sweetheart deals embedded in our mining laws. This legislation will crack down on polluter abuse, and I’m proud to join colleagues to help introduce it.”


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