By Angela Eklund, Journal Register News Service

BRANFORD — Standing at the Stony Creek dock, U.S. Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro and Democratic Senate candidate Richard Blumenthal said Friday that the Gulf oil spill reinforces the need for “vigilance” in protecting Long Island Sound.

“I strongly believe I have an obligation to protect the Sound,” Blumenthal said, his voice carrying above the sea gull cries. “We do not want to see such a disaster happen here.”

DeLauro, D-3, used the scenic backdrop to emphasize the importance of their crusade. “The waters behind us are regional and national treasures,” she said.

In the wake of the Gulf disaster, DeLauro and Blumenthal called on Congress to:

-Close loopholes for oil companies seeking new leases on public lands, increase the liability cap on Big Oil companies, end oil companies’ ability to self-police, and strengthen penalties for safety violations.

-Enact legislation introduced in the House and the Senate that would recoup royalties from oil companies for production on public lands, prevent oil companies from manipulating foreign tax rules to avoid paying full U.S. taxes, and end certain “unjustified” tax deductions and credits granted to the oil industry.

The proposals would save the taxpayers $20 billion and $30 billion over the next 10 years, they said.

-Impose an indefinite moratorium on new offshore deep-water drilling until the causes of the Deepwater Horizon disaster are fully understood.

-Extend subpoena power to the commission investigating the spill.

“We need to hold companies accountable. … We need to make sure we have funds to repair the damage,” Blumenthal said. “We need to make companies pay.”

DeLauro and Blumenthal, the state attorney general, noted their work with other political leaders and environmental advocates in recent years to defeat the Broadwater Energy and Islander East natural gas projects in Long Island Sound.

“The people dug in their heels, fought back, and won,” DeLauro said.

If the companies had succeeded, Long Island would have reaped the benefits of the floating natural gas plant and the underwater natural gas pipeline while Connecticut’s lucrative shellfish beds, fisheries, and marine estuaries would be put at immediate risk, DeLauro and Blumenthal said.

Blumenthal said there were better ways to get energy.

Blumenthal noted the federal government’s instrumental role in stopping a disaster before it begins.

“All too often we found the federal government was an adversary, not an ally,” he said.

“This is idyllic,” DeLauro said of the blue skies and lapping waves on the pier. “We want to keep it that way.”

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