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Words from Washington

Stop the leak, clean it up, get the facts, fix the failures

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cartoon by Matson

Stopping the leaking well, cleaning up the oil, and responding to the needs of affected Gulf Coast communities should be the top priorities for everyone - whether it's BP, the Department of Interior, the White House or Members of Congress.

It's been over a month since oil started leaking into the Gulf of Mexico. Each day that oil continues to spill is a day that frustration swells higher. Both BP and the Obama Administration have a joint and shared duty to do everything within their power to stop the flow of oil and clean it up. The costs of clean-up and paying for the damage caused must be fully paid by BP and the responsible parties - not taxpayers.

While the main focus must be on addressing the immediate crisis, tough questions must be asked and those responsible held accountable.

Last week the House Natural Resources Committee, where I serve as the top Republican, began a series of hearings on the crisis. I heard from government officials and executives from the energy companies responsible for the clean-up. Hearings are an important part of conducting thorough oversight and investigation of both the causes and responses to the spill.

This isn't the time for anyone to be watching their backsides. It's the time to get all the facts out in the open so changes can be made to prevent such a terrible event from ever happening again.

We must get to the bottom of this so that informed, educated decisions can be made and actions taken. Those in Washington D.C. must resist the rush to judgment and the stampede to get in front of the television cameras. There are important jobs to do: get answers, and then fix the failures to prevent another spill and ensure American-made energy continues to operate and is made the safest in the world.

Back in the summer of 2008, gas prices climbed past four dollars per gallon. The response from the public was clear: produce more energy in America. A majority of Americans understand the importance of continued offshore drilling to our economy, to American jobs and to our national security.

This unprecedented spill must be met with real reform and stronger safety measures to better protect our environment and coastal communities, but also to ensure we continue to produce oil here in the U.S.

Turning back on offshore energy production would be too costly in lost jobs, higher gas prices and increased dependence on foreign sources from hostile, unstable nations. America needs an all-of-the-above energy plan that includes renewables such as wind and solar, new nuclear power, clean hydropower, and a continued commitment to drilling for oil and natural gas.

- U.S. Congressman Doc Hastings (R-Pasco) represents Central

Washington's Fourth

Congressional District.

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