Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, celebrated on Friday the passage of the U.S. Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2010 (House Resolution 3619), which includes her amendment to reduce the risk of oil spills from vessels because of human error.

Specifically, the amendment would require the U.S. Coast Guard to provide a report to Congress on the most frequent sources of human error that have led to oil spills from vessels, as well as on the most significant types of “near miss” incidents.

It also would require the Coast Guard to use the findings of the report to take appropriate action domestically and at the International Maritime Organization to reduce the risk of oil spills because of human error. The House passed the legislation by a 385-11 vote.

“As we know all too well on the Central and South Coasts, oil spills can have a devastating impact on our local economy and environment,” Capps said. “We also know the most common cause of oil spills is human error. Just this week, more than 18,000 gallons of fuel oil spilled when two ships collided in the Gulf of Mexico. This troubling incident is an important reminder that our marine resources are still very susceptible to these types of disasters, especially given the high number of vessels that travel through our coastal waters. My amendment ensures that federal authorities will do everything in their power to prevent these damaging spills from occurring in the first place. I am hopeful this important provision will be included in the final legislation signed by the president.”

The Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2010 is also being considered in the Senate, where it was recently approved by the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.

Under the leadership of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee chair, Washington Sen. Maria Cantwell, the Senate version of the Coast Guard Authorization Act also includes language to curb the risk of oil spills from vessels because of human error.

— Emily Kryder is the communications director for Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara.