On tonight's "The Rachel Maddow Show" on MSNBC, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) discussed a Bush-era MMS report that she says downplayed the impact an oil spill would have on the Gulf Coast. Embeddable video available here: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26315908/vp/37479885#37479885 Transcript below, if used must credit MSNBC's "The Rachel Maddow Show":
MADDOW: Joining us now is Senator Barbara Boxer, Democrat from the state of California and chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. Senator Boxer, thank you so much for joining us tonight.
BOXER: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: The president today issuing sort of clarion call for the climate bill to get through the Senate. What is the status of the climate bill in the Senate right now? Could it conceivably get done?
BOXER: Sure, it can get done. The last time we tried it, we had 54 votes. We need 60. If America needed to see why we need to move away from these dirty sources of energy, they see it heartbreakingly every single minute of the day. And we know also we're importing $1 billion of oil from folks who don't like us. It makes tremendous sense. And I was pleased to hear in the president's voice a real determination. He had that same sound that he had before we passed health care. I'm excited about that. We need to move away from these old energy sources toward the new clean energy sources that the whole world wants. And it should be made in America. I want to see those words again. The world is waiting for a leader to step forward, and it should be our country.
MADDOW: There were some incentives in the climate bill for states to open their shores to offshore drilling. Do you expect that those incentives are going to be changed or taken out entirely? Surely the politics of that issue are entirely changed now, even Sarah Palin denying that she ever meant drilling offshore when she said drill, baby, drill.
BOXER: Well, let's be clear. As you have shown it, it's just straight out there. They wanted to drill anywhere and everywhere, deep, shallow, onshore, offshore. As a matter of fact, those very same voices were the ones who killed the congressional moratorium, which we had for many years in the outer continental shelf, which thank goodness we still have off the West Coast, which a lot of us are protecting, the six senators from the West Coast.
But, yes. In the latest version of the bill by John Kerry, Joe Lieberman, and it was Lindsey Graham, they did put out some incentives for the states, but I think those have been pulled back. In the bill that I reported out of our committee, we had no incentives and no offshore oil drilling in that bill. But clearly, this is a whole new situation here, Rachel, and I think a lot of the news is going to shock people. I have some information that in '07, when the Bush administration decided that the Gulf area can have a big new robust five-year plan, you should hear -- and I happen to have it here if you want -- what they said about the risks of a spill.
MADDOW: So this is from 2007 during the Bush administration.
MADDOW: And this is their explanation of what they thought the risks would be. If you have it there, if you could share it with us, I think it would be the first time anybody's heard it.
BOXER: I do. It's true. Let me read it to you. Excuse my reading glasses here. They said --
MADDOW: Oh, they're cute, don't worry.
BOXER: "Blowouts are expected to have temporary, localized impacts on water quality." They said, "should a spill contact a barrier beach, oiling is expected to be light and sand removal during cleanup activities minimized." They said, "offshore oil spills resulting from a lease sale are not expected to damage significantly any wetlands along the Gulf Coast." And two more quick things they said. "At the expected level of impact, the resulting influence on commercial fishing from a lease sale would be negligible and indistinguishable from variations due to natural causes." And finally, they said, "based on the sizes of oil spills assumed for a lease sale, only localized and short-term disruption of recreational activity might result," in paren (ph) "minor impact." This is scandalous, Rachel, and this is what allowed the next step, which was for this deep well -- this Deep Horizon to go forward. It was based on these statements by the Bush administration MMS.
MADDOW: When you were last on this show, Senator Boxer, you yourself called for an investigation into whether or not BP have lied--
MADDOW: -- about their ability to handle an oil spill of this size. Since then, Attorney General Eric Holder has announced a federal criminal inquiry into the spill. You've also turned up this document that you just read from here in terms of what they said about the impact of a spill from Deepwater Horizon in order to get approval to go forward with it. What's your reaction to the inquiry going forward? Are you satisfied that the Justice Department is pursuing this aggressively enough?
BOXER: I think the American people should feel better, should feel better, that this Justice Department has stated very clearly they are investigating. They are conducting a thorough investigation to look at whether civil laws were broken or criminal laws were broken. They've stated what those laws are. And Eric Holder has said that they've got the FBI on the case, they've got teams of people there. People will be held accountable. Now, this can't undo what happened. But there will be justice here. I believe that. And I think that if there's justice and we get the funding necessary so that we can make people whole -- because these fishermen, the people who are losing their way of life -- I mean, I feel so badly for them. Everybody does in America. By the way, my committee's going to be going down there a week from Friday. We're spending the day. And the whole purpose, because it's the Environment Committee, is to look at ways we can lessen the impact.
And another thing I wanted to mention. I don't know if you've heard that today the -- the incident commander, Admiral Allen, said that he is going to tell BP they have to allow for the construction of five barrier islands to protect the oil from -- protect the shoreline. So these barrier islands would be protective of the shoreline and catch some of the oil. And that's good news, it's something the local people really wanted.
MADDOW: Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer of California, chair of the Senate's Environment Committee. Thank you so much for your time tonight, Senator. I really appreciate it.
BOXER: Thank you.