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Text of the Emergency Relief Well Act

This bill was introduced on June 15, 2010, in a previous session of Congress, but was not enacted. The text of the bill below is as of Jun 15, 2010 (Introduced).

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Source: GPO

II

111th CONGRESS

2d Session

S. 3492

IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

June 15, 2010

introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources

A BILL

To amend the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act to require the drilling of emergency relief wells, and for other purposes.

1.

Short title

This Act may be cited as the Emergency Relief Well Act.

2.

Findings

Congress finds that—

(1)

the April 20, 2010, explosion and sinking of the mobile offshore drilling unit Deepwater Horizon resulted in the largest release of petroleum in the history of the United States, causing tens of billions of dollars in economic damages and widespread devastation of natural resources;

(2)

numerous attempts over several months failed to stem the flow of oil from the Deepwater Horizon incident, including the use of—

(A)

a containment dome to cover the leak;

(B)

a top kill procedure to plug the well with viscous drilling fluid;

(C)

a junk shot to clog the well with various waste materials; and

(D)

a cut and cap procedure to excise a damaged riser pipe and apply an oil collection device;

(3)

all of the attempts described in paragraph (2) failed to permanently stop the flow of oil;

(4)

drilling emergency relief wells is the most effective procedure to permanently stop the flow of oil from a damaged well;

(5)

the success of relief wells in stopping oil spills has been demonstrated in the Ixtoc Spill in Mexico in 1979 and the Montara Spill in Australia in 2009, which were 2 of the largest oil spills in recent history;

(6)

although emergency relief wells successfully stopped the Ixtoc and Montara spills, the emergency relief wells—

(A)

took several months to complete; and

(B)

required multiple successive attempts before finally stopping the flow of oil;

(7)

other governments have maintained emergency relief well policies to ensure that preparations are made for emergency relief wells before an emergency blowout;

(8)

although no measure can prevent a spill or leak or make drilling safe, relief wells are the most proven way of stopping a spill or leak after a spill or leak has occurred; and

(9)

if emergency wells had been prepared at the mobile offshore drilling unit Deepwater Horizon at the initiation of drilling, months of disaster relief measures could have been eliminated, and tens of millions of gallons of oil could have been prevented from entering the Gulf of Mexico and damaging the surrounding economies and natural resources.

3.

Amendments to the outer continental shelf lands act

(a)

Geological and geophysical explorations

Section 11 of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (43 U.S.C. 1340) is amended—

(1)

in subsection (c)(3)—

(A)

in subparagraph (C), by striking and;

(B)

by redesignating subparagraph (D) as subparagraph (E); and

(C)

by inserting after subparagraph (C) the following:

(D)

a plan for drilling at least 1 emergency relief well concurrently with the drilling of the proposed well; and

; and

(2)

in subsection (e), by adding at the end the following:

(3)

Emergency relief well

Any exploratory drilling conducted under a lease shall be accompanied by the concurrent drilling of at least 1 emergency relief well, subject to any applicable requirements established by the Secretary.

(4)

Alternative measures

The Secretary, in consultation with the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Secretary of Commerce, may require, as an alternative to the emergency relief well requirement under paragraph (3), measures that the Secretary, after a period of notice and public comment, determines would be at least as effective at stopping a major release from a proposed well as the measures required under that paragraph.

.

(b)

Oil and gas development and production

Section 25 of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (43 U.S.C. 1351) is amended—

(1)

in subsection (c)—

(A)

by redesignating paragraphs (5) and (6) as paragraphs (6) and (7), respectively; and

(B)

by inserting after paragraph (4) the following:

(5)

a plan for drilling at least 1 emergency relief well concurrently with the proposed well;

; and

(2)

by adding at the end the following:

(m)

Emergency relief wells

(1)

In general

Any development and production drilling conducted under a lease granted under this Act shall be accompanied by the concurrent drilling of at least 1 emergency relief well, subject to any applicable requirements established by the Secretary.

(2)

Alternative measures

The Secretary, in consultation with the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Secretary of Commerce, may require, as an alternative to the emergency relief well requirement under paragraph (1), measures that the Secretary, after a period of notice and public comment, determines would be at least as effective at stopping a major release from a proposed well as the measures required under that paragraph.

.