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Shaheen hopes for renewed commitment in the Gulf

(NECN: Lauren Collins) - Senator Jeanne Shaheen greeted the news that BP chief Tony Hayward will be handing off day-to-day responsibilities in the Gulf with hope, "that there will be somebody there with a renewed energy and a renewed commitment to make sure the response to people in the Gulf is better."

A response New Hampshire's junior senator says, so far, falls short.  She's astounded that many of the clean up technologies deployed since April date back to the Exxon Valdez days.  As a member of the senate energy and natural resources committee Shaheen's been grilling executives from BP, Haliburton and Transocean.

"I asked each of them how much their companies spent on research to clean up oil spills and the answer was zero," she says.  

And so on Thursday Shaheen and Colorado Senator Mark Udall introduced pair of bills that would use oil and gas royalties to deter a repeat offshore disaster.  One would reform a Department of Energy program to target safety and accident prevention rather than production.  The other would create a new R&D program within the Department of the Interior to improve the clean up of an environmental crisis.

"It would set up a scientific advisory committee to make sure that whatever research is done is rigorous."

Like the work being done at the University of New Hampshire's Coastal Response Research Center, headed by one of the country's foremost authorities on the topic, Dr. Nancy Kinner.  

"We've been working with her and with the center a little bit on how to craft this legislation to make sure it will be useful in addressing oil spills in the future."  

Shaheen is also working to give subpoena power to the newly formed commission charged with investigating the Deepwater Horizon blast, "because we want to make sure that nobody's withholding information, that everything is as transparent as possible so the public knows what's going on."