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Senate Proceeding on May 5th, 2010 :: 1:30:25 to 1:47:00
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David Vitter

1:30:08 to 1:30:29( Edit History Discussion )

David Vitter: the presiding officer: the senator from louisiana is recognized. mr. vitter: thank you, mr. president. representing louisiana in the senate along with senator landrieu, you can imagine i've been focused exclusively on the

David Vitter

1:30:25 to 1:47:00( Edit History Discussion )
Speech By: David Vitter

David Vitter

1:30:30 to 1:30:51( Edit History Discussion )

David Vitter: ongoing oil spill/leak, ongoing flow that we in the country have been battling. because it's been almost a week since i've been here in washington and on the senate floor, i wanted to use the opportunity to briefly give an update from my perspective. along with many other officials, industry folks, interested citizens, i've been all through and up and down the coast, as

David Vitter

1:30:52 to 1:31:13( Edit History Discussion )

David Vitter: well as offshore. i had the pleasure of traveling with several cabinet secretaries and other members of our congressional delegation last friday, going offshore to look at the site of the former rig, the site of the ongoing spill or leak very, very closely.

David Vitter

1:31:14 to 1:31:34( Edit History Discussion )

David Vitter: i also took another helicopter tour later that day. i've been in all the affected coastal communities -- st. bernard parish, plaquemines parish, lower jefferson, reach out to folks daily, local elected officials and leaders,

David Vitter

1:31:35 to 1:31:56( Edit History Discussion )

David Vitter: the industry, federal agencies, the coast guard and others working on this ongoing crisis, the governor and the state who are extremely proactively engaged. and having done that, again, i wanted to give a brief report to my colleagues and my fellow citizens.

David Vitter

1:31:57 to 1:32:19( Edit History Discussion )

David Vitter: obviously, i think we need to start in rembering that this is a great human tragedy and that started with the apparent loss of 11 lives. and i think it's very important to start all of our discussions and recollections about this incident with that human tragedy

David Vitter

1:32:20 to 1:32:40( Edit History Discussion )

David Vitter: and with those families. you know, as the media and others cover the environmental danger, which is great, the economic impact, which is enormous, i think sometimes those families, that enormous human ls, is a little glossed over.

David Vitter

1:32:41 to 1:33:01( Edit History Discussion )

David Vitter: so i certainly want to stop and reflect on that again and continue to offer my heartfelt thoughts and prayers to those 11 families who were the most impacted, o've suffered the most. i say a prayer for them every day, as so many folks in

David Vitter

1:33:02 to 1:33:23( Edit History Discussion )

David Vitter: louisiana, and will continue to lift those families up. secondly, mr. president, this is an ongoing challenge and crisis because, as i said a minute ago rng this leak, this flow continues. it hasn't stopped yet. and of course priority one of everyone involved is to stop the

David Vitter

1:33:24 to 1:33:48( Edit History Discussion )

David Vitter: leak, to stop the flow. iterit's a little difficult to estimate exactly what that flow is, but the best guest matter, and it's really an art, not science, is about 5,000 barrels a day. just to naught in perspective -- just to put that in perspective, already as of four or five days

David Vitter

1:33:50 to 1:34:10( Edit History Discussion )

David Vitter: ago, that meant the product leak surpassed all of the spill, all of the events combined from health insurance keen and rita. -- from hurricane katrina and rita. if that rate is constant and continues 5,000 barrels a day,

David Vitter

1:34:11 to 1:34:32( Edit History Discussion )

David Vitter: then in about another 35 days we'll equal the volume leaked from the exxon valdez. that is a very real threat to equal or success pas surpass that amount of oil. lots of activity going on at the well head in that area to try to control and stop the leak.

David Vitter

1:34:33 to 1:34:54( Edit History Discussion )

David Vitter: there are multiple plans -- i guess plan "a," full, is to close off the valve that should have been shut down automatically through the blowout preventer. needless to say, there was a massive failure in terms of that automatic closedown, which is supposed to happen at multiple levels. but there's ongoing effort to

David Vitter

1:34:55 to 1:35:16( Edit History Discussion )

David Vitter: send underwater robots down to the floor of the gulf and shut down those valves. unfortunately, that has not worked yet. plan "b" is to put out a large constructed box or dome to cover the part of the gulf floor where the leak is coming from and then to pipe up the materl, to

David Vitter

1:35:17 to 1:35:38( Edit History Discussion )

David Vitter: vacuum up the material in a controlled way, from there to the surface and store it. that box or dome h been constructed. it will be sentut to the site in the next 48 hours. and so that attempt will start. this technology has been used before in other spills, but never in anything like this

David Vitter

1:35:39 to 1:36:00( Edit History Discussion )

David Vitter: depth of water 5,000 feet. it's been used in 400 feet, 500 feet, not 5,000. so that is a big difference which brings up all sorts of engineering challenges because of the enormous pressures at that depth of water. and plan "c," if you will,

David Vitter

1:36:01 to 1:36:25( Edit History Discussion )

David Vitter: mr. president, is to drill a relief well -- in fact, two relief wells -- that work has already begun to relieve the pressure on this well and to bottle it yo up, to put mud and cement down there to stop the flow from the existing we. and that can work and that will work. the problem is, that will take

David Vitter

1:36:29 to 1:36:51( Edit History Discussion )

David Vitter: 60-plus days, 630 to 60 to 90 days. to stop the leak in the immediate area of the leak, the coast guard and b.p. and others in industry are using dispersants and other methods of trying to mitigate the ongoing flow. so, mr. president, that's one category of very important work. there's a second category of extremely important work, and

David Vitter

1:36:52 to 1:37:14( Edit History Discussion )

David Vitter: that's all the work that is under way to protect the louisiana coastline and marshes, as well as similar work in neighboring states -- mississippi, alabama, and florida. i have to say, mr. president, last friday when i took that plan ride with the cabinet secretaries, i was extremely

David Vitter

1:37:15 to 1:37:35( Edit History Discussion )

David Vitter: concerned that all of that coastal protection planning and execution had to go through b.p., and it was very evident to me that that challenge and that end of the endeavor was bigger than b.p. and bigger than any single company. and i was concerned that that was a bottleneck.

David Vitter

1:37:36 to 1:37:56( Edit History Discussion )

David Vitter: i wasn't arguing in any way that b.p. is the responsible party under federal law, that b.p. had enormous monetary responsibility that flowed from that. nobody is arguing with that. but, operationally, i didn't want all of that crucial coastal protection -- marsh protection activity to be stalled or

David Vitter

1:37:57 to 1:38:19( Edit History Discussion )

David Vitter: delayed because it had to fit through that bottleneck. mr. president, i think the good news from over the weekend is that old system was blown up and that bottleneck was relieved. and i particularly want to compliment and commend admiral thad allen, who the president

David Vitter

1:38:20 to 1:38:42( Edit History Discussion )

David Vitter: appointed on saturday, to be the federal coordinator of this effort. i think he recognized, at my urging and many others, that having all of that planning and execution flow through b.p. was a problem and a mistake, so that has been corrected. again, mr. president, as of friday, detailed planning in terms of coastal and marsh

David Vitter

1:38:43 to 1:39:03( Edit History Discussion )

David Vitter: protection efforts was not getting done b frankly, it was not getting done by the federal authorities, the coast guard or anyone else. but local and state leaders stepd in the folks who know that coastline and that marsh area the best stepped in, and they have provided those

David Vitter

1:39:04 to 1:39:24( Edit History Discussion )

David Vitter: detailed plans over the last several days. and so over that time period, in particular from friday on, individual parishes in coordination with the state, in coordination with many experts

David Vitter

1:39:25 to 1:39:47( Edit History Discussion )

David Vitter: have pirish-by-pire arab -- parish-by-parish plans. that pulse together many -- that pulls together many levels of leadership. the people know the mash like the back of their hands. that void has been filled thanks to the leadership and vision by local leaders in strong coordination with governor

David Vitter

1:39:48 to 1:40:08( Edit History Discussion )

David Vitter: jindal and the state. now those individual parish-by-parish plans are ready. they're being tweaked. they're being improved. but they're ready. the step is for the coast guard to formally approve those plans.

David Vitter

1:40:09 to 1:40:31( Edit History Discussion )

David Vitter: that has been done. the coast guard needs to quickly and timely approve those supplemental plans. i talked to the coast guard leadership yesterday afternoon and urged them to do that in a very time-sensitive way, and they assured me that that was happening. once that happens, b.p. automatically is on the hook to

David Vitter

1:40:32 to 1:40:52( Edit History Discussion )

David Vitter: pay for implementation of those plans. that takes no additional approval or signature from b.p. that's automatic under federal law. and then the plans need to be executed, either through b.p. or independently by using fishermen in the area, by using other contractors, or otherwise.

David Vitter

1:40:53 to 1:41:13( Edit History Discussion )

David Vitter: that's a decision of the locals and the state. so i think that process is moving in a very good direction and is well under way. mr. president, let me close by fosing on another big category of concern that i share with so many others, and that is the

David Vitter

1:41:14 to 1:41:34( Edit History Discussion )

David Vitter: concern about economic impact starting with the folks who have been hit and affected the most -- the fishermen of louisiana, oystermen, fishermen and the industry. already, as of at least sunday and monday, this is having devastating economic impact on

David Vitter

1:41:35 to 1:41:55( Edit History Discussion )

David Vitter: those folks and our hearts go out to them and our prayers go out to them as well. i've been working with many others to try to get them the hope and relief they need, in particular focusing on four categories of activity. first of all, when i talk to local fishermen in st. bernard

David Vitter

1:41:56 to 1:42:19( Edit History Discussion )

David Vitter: and low jefferson, plaqueminess, all through south louisiana, they all say the same thing. they don't want aout, a big federal program. they -- they don't want a handout, a big federal program. that's their lives, their tradition, their spirkts and -- that's they are laiive lives,

David Vitter

1:42:20 to 1:42:41( Edit History Discussion )

David Vitter: their tradition, their spirit. all efforts are being called to be the backbone of this response. i have taked to both local and state leaders and b.p. and we're all in agreement that a hyper aggressive effort needs to happen to hire up as many of those fishermen as possible to

David Vitter

1:42:42 to 1:43:03( Edit History Discussion )

David Vitter: man that coastal marsh protection effort. secondly, that's not going to take care of all of the immediat need. so i am pushing strongly to make sure that b.p. holds to its promises of setting up a hotline and a program of getting quick

David Vitter

1:43:04 to 1:43:24( Edit History Discussion )

David Vitter: compsation into the hand of families who are suffering economic loss. i talked directly with the c.e.o. of b.p. yesterday about this. he assured me that that was being done, that would mean quick checks to people and families that needed it.

David Vitter

1:43:25 to 1:43:47( Edit History Discussion )

David Vitter: without any signing away of future claims. so i'm going to work very hard to enforce that personal promise. in fact, today i'm setting up a hotline in my office. it'll be advertised on my w site www.vitter.gov to ensure that that program is developing as promised.

David Vitter

1:43:48 to 1:44:09( Edit History Discussion )

David Vitter: and if anybody out there -- fisher mn, others -- who are applying to that program are treated differently, i urge policemen to call this hotline and -- i urge them to call this hotline and we'll get all over thew immediately and try to correct that situation with b.b. third in terms of helping that local industry, of course we're

David Vitter

1:44:10 to 1:44:32( Edit History Discussion )

David Vitter: looking medium and long term in terms of full economic damages. b.p. is a responsible party. they're responsible for those economic damages. in addition, we have an open trust fund under federal law which at present has ads 1.6 billion balance -- has a $1.6

David Vitter

1:44:33 to 1:44:54( Edit History Discussion )

David Vitter: billion balance funded since the exxon valu valz incident to cover these impacts. fourths, additionally, there is an outpouring of citizen private support to help these families. and i'm not directly involved but i know

David Vitter

1:44:55 to 1:45:17( Edit History Discussion )

David Vitter: several organizations under the umbrella of the united way is leading fund-raising efforts to directly help these families. but as this ongoing challenge and really crisis continues, that will continue to be a prime focus of mine: the families directly impacted, fishermen,

David Vitter

1:45:18 to 1:45:40( Edit History Discussion )

David Vitter: oystermen, the shrimpers, their families, who after suffering so much through katrina and rita are sort of hit below the belt yet again. mr. president, i'll continue obviously with senator landrieu and others to stay very focused on this ongoing crisis to do all sort of work i've described.

David Vitter

1:45:41 to 1:46:01( Edit History Discussion )

David Vitter: and i ask my colleagues to be sensitive to that and to be aware of that. in particular, there is going to be, and there has to be, enormous discussion about policy, federal and other picy coming out of this disaster. we need to look at mandated technology. we need to look at procedures.

David Vitter

1:46:02 to 1:46:23( Edit History Discussion )

David Vitter: we need to look at the current liabilit cap and the open trust fund. all of that is important. but as we begin to do that, mr. president, my first request would be that we all realize that down in louisiana off our coast, in the gulf coast, in the real world, there is an ongoing

David Vitter

1:46:24 to 1:46:45( Edit History Discussion )

David Vitter: crisis that still continues. the leak is unabated. the flow is unabated. and i'd ask all of us to be sensitive to that so we're not diverting attention or resources away from that ongoing crisis. the work needs to be there right now to shut down the flow of oil

David Vitter

1:46:46 to 1:47:00( Edit History Discussion )

David Vitter: and to protect our coastline. many, many members, democrats and republicans, have offered their support to me and senator landrieu. we both deeply appreciate that, and we look forward to working with everyone in this body on this ongoing situation.

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