In a statement on the hearing Senator Cardin said, "BP and its partners are responsible for repairing the environmental destruction they have caused, in addition to the economic devastation. But if we can't trust BP to tell us how much oil had been leaking into the Gulf of Mexico for three months, why should we trust them when it comes to assessing the damage they have done to our environment?. We can't afford to have the same incomplete approach to assessment when it comes to cleaning our waters and restoring our fishing stocks or bird populations or any of the other critical ecosystem restoration tasks that lie ahead.
"If we are going to get the restoration work done right and if we are going to hold BP and its partners accountable for the true extent of the damage they've caused, then we need an accurate and complete assessment. The answers developed through a Natural Resource Damage Assessment determine the size of the bill presented to BP and its partners. They shape the scale and scope of the restoration work done to repair the damage. This is a legal process, conducted by federal and state agencies, to identify how natural resources have been injured, the best methods for restoring them, and the type and amount of restoration needed to compensate the public.
"The first priority in this disaster has been to stop the flow of oil from well. We're heartened by recent progress and hope the well will soon be sealed for good. We must ensure our responders have the resources and organization they need to remove the oil that's in the water and to protect the Gulf coast. But even when the oil is removed to the extent possible, it will not be enough to fully restore water and wildlife or compensate the public for the loss of these natural resources.
Dr. Robert B. Spies, President, Applied Marine Sciences; Former Chief Scientist, Exxon Valdez Trustee Council testified, "It is critically important that we do all we can to ensure that the pre- and post-impact status of the Gulf ecosystems, including contaminant characterizations, is being assessed and documented as rigorously as possible in at least the most biologically productive and sensitive parts of the Gulf coast. These areas include the estuaries and especially the marshes and wetlands behind the barrier islands along the coast, which are the breeding and nursery grounds of myriad aquatic, intertidal, and avian species. Given the widespread and intensive application of chemical dispersants, the very large amounts of oil on the ocean's surface, and the presence of large quantities of subsurface oil, it also is critical to be sampling oceanic surface, deepwater and bottom communities as well."
Access the hearing website and link to testimony, statements and a webcast (click here). Access the Time article (click here). Access a video interview with Time's Michael Grunwald and Bernard Charbonnet, former chairman of the New Orleans Port Authority on Hardball with Chris Matthews (click here). Access a release from Sen. Cardin (click here).