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January 11, 2011

Oceana Responds to the Gulf Oil Spill Panel’s Report

Almost nine months after the oil gusher began in the Gulf of Mexico, this morning the presidential commission investigating the Deepwater Horizon disaster released its final report.

The commission concludes that the oil industry was plagued by systemic problems that could lead to another accident unless major reforms are enacted by the government and the drilling companies. The panel placed blame on all three companies responsible for the well – BP, Transocean and Halliburton – and the government regulators responsible for overseeing them.

The panel also outlined its recommendations for regulations and practices to prevent another spill, including an increase in the budget and manpower at the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, lifting the current $75 million cap on corporate liability for damages from an oil spill, and significantly strengthening the oil-spill-response capabilities in the Arctic before any new major drilling is allowed there.

 Oceana CEO Andrew Sharpless had this to say about the report, (you can read his full statement here):

“The Commission…correctly concluded that the Deepwater Horizon disaster was not an isolated incident; but was indicative of a systemic failure of the oil industry and the federal regulatory agencies responsible for overseeing it.

However, its recommendations fall far short of what’s needed to avoid a similarly catastrophic blowout. 

Unfortunately, we are left with a report that presupposes offshore drilling into the indefinite future. The Obama Administration recently took a good first step by taking drilling in the eastern Gulf and Atlantic off the table. The Administration should go further and end exploration in the Arctic. As the Commission report makes clear, the Arctic should be the last place we start drilling, rather than the first.” 

Oceana senior scientist and senior campaign director Jackie Savitz responded to the report on the National Journal’s website.

She writes, “While the Commission did an excellent job outlining the risks of drilling, no commission out there has compared the risks to the benefits. Given what we now know, the risks are tremendous and the benefits are unclear. It’s about time we ask the real question: ‘With only 8% of the oil we use coming from the Gulf, can’t we find a better way to get that energy using clean energy technologies and efficiency?’ That sounds like a good charge for the next Commission.”

What’s your take on the Commission’s report?