Dec 6, 2011 12:05 AM by Jim Hummel
The United States Senate is considering a bill, which involves offshore safety reforms proposed by Rep. Jeff Landry, R-New Iberia. In the wake of recent fatalities offshore, most will agree safety should be a priority in the Gulf, but not everyone is onboard with Landry's ideas.
H.R. 2838, also known as the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act, was passed a few weeks ago by the U.S. House of Representatives and includes provisions drafted by Landry. Among Landry's provisions, one calling for standby vessels to be placed between three and twelve nautical miles from most offshore facilities, just in case of an emergency.
"This is something that's important to us," said Landry. "This is something that ensures that men and women who risk their lives everyday have an opportunity to come back home."
Landry's provisions have come under criticism both in Washington D.C. and Louisiana.
"This is clearly about more government involvement and really does not do anything to add to safety," said Rep. Charles Boustany, R-Lafayette. Boustany says Landry's proposals are too costly and could drive businesses out of the Gulf.
"In fact it's going to add millions of dollars per rig, per year in costs, it could hurt jobs and it doesn't add anything to safety," said Boustany.
Don Briggs, president of the Louisiana Oil & Gas Association (LOGA) agrees with Boustany, and fears the added costs of standby vessels could be a step back for an industry still on the rebound from the drilling moratorium.
"We adamantly oppose it," Briggs said, adding that standby vessels were common place in the Gulf for a long time, but were phased out as technology decreased emergency response times. "It's not going to add to the safety at all, we have many good policies already in place."
Despite the criticism, Landry stands by his provisions.
"At the end of the day, I'm interested in making sure that my constituents, the most valuable resource out in the Gulf--the men and women, have an opportunity to safely come back home if there's an accident that occurs," he said.