By Denise Richardson
Off-shore oil drilling should be banned until protective measures are in place, a federal lawmaker from New York said Tuesday.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., called for a moratorium and also for subpoena power for the commission investigating the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico to determine if criminal charges are warranted.
On Tuesday, Gillibrand and nine Senate colleagues introduced legislation to grant subpoena power to the bipartisan National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling, which President Barack Obama created by executive order May 22.
Congress previously has granted subpoena power to presidential commissions investigating national crises, including the Warren Commission and the Three Mile Island Commission, according to a media release from Gillibrand. Similar legislation was expected to be introduced in the House of Representatives, the release said.
"Our investigations must have real teeth with subpoena power that allow us to get to the bottom of this catastrophe," Gillibrand said. "Subpoena power is critical to hold all parties accountable, protect taxpayers and successfully clean up the disaster in the gulf."
A recently installed containment cap on the stricken BP wellhead is helping to limit the leak, Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen said Tuesday in Washington, according to an Associated Press report.
Gillibrand said BP should pay for the "entire cleanup" and losses tied to the spill. She cited concerns about the spill and cleanup efforts during a media conference call about a summit in Washington on higher education and reviving the state's economy.
"I'm very worried about the workers who are cleaning up the spill," Gillibrand said.
She expressed concern about the safety of chemicals used in the ocean to disburse the oil and compared exposure to post-9/ll cleanup efforts, after which workers became ill.