In a move clearly designed to show he is not merely a mouthpiece for the oil and gas industry, freshman U.S. Rep. Jeff Landry has introduced legislation requiring a standby vessel  to rescue workers during an emergency on an offshore drilling rig.

A day ahead of the anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon, the Republican congressman from New Iberia says his goal is to improve the safety of offshore workers. His “Offshore Installation Emergency Evacuation Act” would require a standby vessel to be stationed within 12 miles of offshore drilling installations.

“As we pause to reflect on the 11 lives lost last year, we take the time to see that changes must be made to promote the safety of the men and women on the offshore platforms,” Landry said in press announcement Tuesday morning. “As the representative for our oil and gas workers, it is my duty to make sure they come home safely to their families after spending weeks in the Gulf working to provide the energy our nation needs to create jobs.”

A major proponent of domestic oil and gas drilling and one of the most outspoken critics of the drilling moratorium put in place after the BP explosion, Landry says similar legislation was introduced in the 1980s but was strongly opposed by some oil companies. “My former Congressman Billy Tauzin introduced a similar bill in the past. Coincidentally or not, his bill faced strong opposition from Arco – a BP subsidiary.”

Landry says he and Tauzin are not the only ones who believe standby vessels are necessary, noting that Lt. Cmdr. Michael Odom of the U.S. Coast Guard told a joint USCG-MMS board investigating the Deepwater Horizon explosion that standby vessels should be required. This sentiment, according to Landry, is also supported by the official reports from the Coast Guard’s Marine Board and the National Transportation Safety Board’s investigation of previous accidents.

Landry hopes this time around BP and his House colleagues will give an open and transparent debate to his proposal. “And I hope we can get it through both Houses quickly.”

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