• U.S. Coast Guard

The House Judiciary I Committee today unanimously passed a bill that essentially removes the caps on costs that must be paid in the event of an oil or natural gas spill in North Carolina’s coastal fishing waters.

According to SB 836, any person or company that leaked, discharged or spilled oil natural gas, or drilling waste into coastal fishing or offshore waters to pay all costs for the cleanup. You can read the bill here. SB836.pdf

In addition, the bill would allow the state to assess the potential for such an accident—and its environmental and economic impacts—in reviewing plans for offshore facilities.

This is known as a consistency review, which authorizes states to comment to federal agencies, notably Department of the Interior and the Minerals Management Service, on proposals or plans for offshore facilities. States must limit their comments to potential direct impacts of the facilities as opposed to general concerns about them.

SB 836 adds other information that the state should consider when commenting on proposals or plans.
The full House and Senate must pass the bill before sending it to the governor.

If the bill becomes law, the N.C. Coastal Resources Commission would also review state laws on offshore energy exploration and recommend any changes to the Environmental Review Commission by October 2011.