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(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) joined Washington state fishermen and small business owners at Fisherman’s Terminal in Seattle to discuss how the devastating impact of the Exxon Valdez oil spill emphasizes the need to hold BP accountable for the Gulf Coast spill and make sure a similar catastrophe never happens off of the West Coast.

Murray was joined by Margaret Hall, the owner of a seafood processing plant who spoke about how she was devastated after the Exxon Valdez oil spill and her business has never been the same.  Richard Tarabochia and his son Ryan also spoke. Their family has been fishing for three generations, but after the Exxon Valdez oil spill they had to fight to get the compensation they deserved and they ended up losing their livelihood.

At the event today, Murray discussed a bill she co-sponsored, the Big Oil Bailout Prevention Act, which would make sure that BP is held accountable and Washington state taxpayers are not left holding the bag for Big Oil’s mistakes. She also talked about her strong support for a West Coast drilling ban to make sure that the devastation we are seeing now in the Gulf never happens off the shores of Washington state.  She noted that Washington state’s coastal region supports 150,000 jobs and generates almost 10 billion in economic activity - all of which would be threatened if drilling were allowed to happen off the West Coast.

Key excerpts from Senator Murray’s remarks:

“Today we are going to hear about livelihoods that were lost, jobs that disappeared, and lives that were impacted—all at the hands of a big oil company that promised to pay for the damages it caused when the spotlight was on them, but failed to deliver once the public eye moved elsewhere.”

“So knowing what I know about what happened here, when it comes to BP’s promises to cover all the costs associated with this disaster – I’m sorry – but I’m not ready to take them at their word.”

“My bill writes into law something that shouldn’t be controversial:  Taxpayers should never be asked to bail out big oil companies; And fisherman and small businesses owners shouldn’t have to worry about being left holding the bag.”

“To me, this is a simple issue of fairness—if an oil company causes a spill, they should be the one to pay to clean it up—and they should be the ones to fully compensate those affected— not the taxpayers. And it shouldn’t have to be a fight.”

“I am also going to keep fighting to make sure what is happening now in the Gulf Coast never happens here off of our coasts.  Because I don’t even want to imagine what would happen to our economy and our environment if there was an oil spill off of our shores—it would be a disaster.

“I’ve always been opposed to drilling off of Washington state, and this tragedy is just one more painful reminder of the potential consequences of opening up the West Coast to drilling.”

“As we will hear shortly, the economic and environmental devastation caused by the Exxon Valdez disaster is still impacting families, small business owners, and industries in my state”.

“Washington state’s coastal region supports over 150,000 jobs and generates almost 10 billion in economic activity - all of which would be threatened if drilling were allowed to happen off the West Coast. “

That’s why I’m going to keep fighting for a West Coast Oil Drilling Ban to make sure  big oil companies are never allowed to roll the dice with Washington state’s economy and environment, and these waters behind us remain clean and open for business.”