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BP Oil Spill Report Cites “Systemic” Problems, Calls for Major Changes

2 min. read

Yesterday (1/11/11), after nearly 6 months of work, the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling released its final report on the disaster. The report concluded what many of us had feared, that the BP oil spill was not a fluke or act of God (as Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma and Gov. Rick Perry of Texas apparently believe). Instead, the report concludes, the oil spill’s root causes were “foreseeable,” “preventable” and “systemic.” More specifically, the spill was the “inevitable result of years of industry and government complacency and lack of attention to safety.” It involved, among other factors, “human error, engineering mistakes, and management failures” by the oil companies, made worse by inadequate government oversight, lack of any real preparation for a deepwater well blowout of this magnitude, and inadequate funding of the Minerals Management Service.

In response, according to Commission Co-Chair Bob Graham, “Specific actions must be taken by Congress, by the Administration, and by industry to reduce the likelihood of a similar tragedy.” And, Graham warned, “If they are not taken, the probability of another failure will be dramatically greater.”

Specific recommendations by the Commission include:

*"[C]omprehensive reforms of both government and industry practices to overhaul the U.S. approach to drilling safety and greatly reduce the chances of a similar, large scale disaster in the future”

*"U.S. offshore drilling regulations and enforcement practices should be the most advanced in the world … These new regulations should be, at a minimum, at least as stringent as those regulations in peer oil-producing nations (such as Norway and the United Kingdom)."

*"Congress should amend the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act to provide the NOAA with a more formal consultation role relating to environmental protection in Interior leasing decisions.”

*"Drilling operators should be financially responsible for the consequences of failure."

*”The oil and gas industry must adopt a culture of safety… with a focused commitment to continuous improvement and a zero failure rate."

*”Spill response planning by both government and industry must improve."

In the end, according to Commission member – and NRDC president – Frances Beineke:

The Gulf of Mexico is not a national sacrifice zone. It is a unique natural resource that provides Americans with food, energy, and jobs that are essential to the prosperity and security of the nation. We need, all of us, a healthy Gulf. The nation depends on it.

And now the government, the industry and the Congress must act to make the necessary changes to safeguard and the Gulf and its people from future oil spill disasters.

We would simply add that, unlike oil and other fossil fuels, clean energy – wind, solar, wave, energy efficiency, geothermal, etc. - doesn’t “spill” or threaten to wreck public property with widespread, irreparable damage. It also doesn’t require massive amounts of government welfare while sending our money to regimes that hate America.

In the aftermath of the BP Disaster, not only should Congress move on the recommendations of the National Commission, but it should swiftly move our country to a clean energy footing. It can start by kicking highly profitable dirty energy companies off government welfare.