Andy Sharpless is the CEO of Oceana.
Last week, the federal government released a report from the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling. In some ways, the Commission got it exactly right. After extensive study, the Commission concluded that:
• The Gulf of Mexico oil disaster was not an isolated incident, and
• It was the result of systemic failure in the oil industry and its government regulators.
But where the Commission failed was in its recommendations for the future of the oil industry in America. While acknowledging that offshore drilling can never be safe, the Commission declined to recommend removing the cap on liability for drilling disasters like the Deepwater Horizon. Explaining this decision on national television, Chairman Reilly said that some Commission members worried that removing liability limits for disasters would cause the international oil companies to transfer operations to countries that limited their risks from failures like the one this summer in the Gulf.
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.